It is with great excitement that I’m able to share with you news that our 1963 Loyola University Chicago men’s basketball team will be the first team ever inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame on November 24 in Kansas City, Missouri. News of their induction was released this morning and comes just a few weeks after the 50th anniversary of the legendary team’s 60-58 NCAA championship victory over Cincinnati.
Despite the team’s NCAA championship, it may be remembered most for its role in a NCAA Regional contest against Mississippi State, which later became known as the “Game of Change.” On that important day—March 15, 1963—Loyola and Mississippi State played a game that changed college basketball and integration in the South. The Ramblers had a starting lineup that featured four African-Americans and the all-white Mississippi State team had previously been unable to compete in postseason play against integrated teams due to an unwritten state law.
Determined to play the game and give its players the opportunity to compete for a national championship, Mississippi State snuck out of town under the cover of darkness before Governor Ross Barnett could serve an injunction that would have prevented the team from playing an integrated Rambler squad. Loyola won that historic contest, 61-51, behind 20 points from two-time All-America selection Jerry Harkness, and would go on to win the 1963 NCAA Championship.
The College Basketball Hall of Fame honor is just one of many for this beloved team, which forever changed college basketball. Earlier this year, the Ramblers’s NCAA title game versus Cincinnati was named the No. 1 contest in NCAA Tournament history by the Ultimate Book of March Madness, and the “Game of Change” was named as one of the top moments in NCAA March Madness history.
Robert D. Kelly, PhD
Vice President for Student Development