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Called by the Hall

Fifty years ago Loyola played one of the most important games in the history of college basketball. On Tuesday morning, it was announced that the 1963 Rambler team will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame this November.

When Loyola faced Mississippi State in the 1963 NCAA tournament a half-century ago, it did so with four African-American starters, a rarity in the civil rights era. Mississippi State, by contrast, featured an all-white lineup and was banned from playing integrated teams. But the Maroons (as they were called then) left Mississippi under the cover of darkness to play the Ramblers in the Midwest Regional, a game that would become known as the “Game of Change.”

After beating Mississippi State, the Ramblers went on to win the 1963 championship, becoming the first—and only—team from Illinois to win the men’s NCAA basketball tournament. But the 1963 team’s impact went far beyond the basketball court.

As ESPN.com reporter Dana O’Neil wrote:

“When flashbulbs popped at the historic handshake between African-American player Jerry Harkness from Loyola and Mississippi State’s Joe Dan Gold, everyone realized that their March moment was far bigger than a basketball game.”

“That game, if you ask me, was key,” Harkness told ESPN.com last year. “I felt like it was the beginning of things turning around in college basketball. I truly believe that.”

In addition to winning a national championship and playing an important role in the civil rights movement, the 1963 Loyola team also excelled in the classroom. The starting five of Harkness, John Egan, Les Hunter, Ron Miller, and Vic Rouse earned a total of 11 college degrees. When the entire nine-man roster is factored into the equation, that number jumps to 19.

And now, they can all add Hall of Famer to their resumes.

More coverage in Athletics.

Visit the Loyola63.com website.

Read the ESPN.com and USATODAY.com stories about the ’63 team.

  • By Shot Clock Pat on 4.2.2013 at 6:15 pm

    This news makes me extremely proud.

    I am overjoyed and thankful for the Loyola memories.

  • By John Fitzgerald on 4.2.2013 at 6:23 pm

    What a great team. What great memories! I went to every
    home game that year and a few away games,
    plus every one of the five NCAA games. I was
    a Sophomore then and I knew then what a special
    team they were. Fierce defenders and explosive
    on offense. They walked the Lake Shore campus
    as almost unapproachable demi-gods to us.
    We were proud to have them represent our
    school to the nation. As the Mississippi State
    coach said after the game in East Lansing, “they were agile,
    mobile, and high style.”

  • By Sandra Washington on 4.2.2013 at 6:53 pm

    It is great to see this induction into the collegiate hall of fame. Leslie Hunter and Victor Rouse were famed members of my high school in Nashville, Tennessee, Pearl High School. Pearl High was a ground breaking school with a long career of excellence both academically and athletically, in the middle Tennessee area, so those two were part of our school pride. They preceded my time at Pearl High but I was proud to discover that I would have a chance to follow in their footsteps when I was admitted to Loyola and then I graduated in 1968. The great foundation that we all received at Pearl High school determined how we progressed at Loyola and also helped me use my Loyola academic success to see me on successfully through my master’s program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and then my doctorate program at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN.

    Sandra Washington, Ed.D.
    Loyola Arts and Sciences (BA 1968)
    Brentwood, TN.

  • By Cas Kotowski on 4.3.2013 at 8:50 pm

    When watching the 1963 NCAA champs on TV with spouse Jinx Connelly Kotowski, I would point out how much I “loaned” each player while acting as Director of Loyola Hall 1961-1962. Jinx’s Dad, math chair John Connelly, also served as head of the University’s Athletic Board. It was a magical season!

  • By James G Popovich DDS on 4.4.2013 at 3:07 pm

    I was a freshman at the lakeshore campus when we won this game, it was a happen time.. These atheletes were truelly students and recieved a earned degree. Congrats to the Jesuits you made are lives fuller for the experience of our education .

    James Popovich DDS

  • By Michael Morawey on 4.4.2013 at 4:35 pm

    I was already on active duty with the Navy but happened to be home on leave when the Ramblers played the championship game and won. Wow! I’ll never forget that thrilling game and the moment Loyola Chicago stood as the tallest team in the world of college sports.

  • By Leonard Smith on 4.8.2013 at 11:37 pm

    I was coaching freshman basketball in Niles Michigan and I took my father to Michigan State to see the game.He didn’t believe they would allow the game to be played. We saw history made that day.
    Lennie Smith