Loyola Chicago won the 1963 NCAA National Championship in men's basketball but their story is about so much more than basketball. An unwritten rule in college basketball at the time was that no team could field more than two Black players on the court. That didn't fly with head coach George Ireland whose starting line-up had four Black players (Jerry Harkness, Ron Miller, Les Hunter, and Vic Rouse).
The Ramblers entered the NCAA Tournament with a 19-2 record. After dismantling Tennessee Tech, 111-42, Loyola's next opponent in the tournament was #6 ranked Mississippi State. Only one problem existed. The governor of Mississippi prevented Mississippi State from playing against any racially integrated teams for the last 2 years.
He again ordered Mississippi State not to play against Loyola Chicago in the NCAA Tournament. Mississippi State's coach, Babe McCarthy, disobeyed and took his to East Lansing's Jenison Field House to take on the Ramblers in what became known as "The Game of Change." Even though Loyola won the game, McCarthy said that in an important way both teams won.
The Ramblers would go on to beat #8 Illinois and #2 Duke before matching up with #1 Cincinnati for the national championship. They found themselves down by 15 at half, but behind Jerry Harkness hot shooting pushed the game into overtime where they eventually prevailed, 60-58.
As important as the title was it paled in comparison to the impact the 1963 Loyola Chicago Ramblers had on the integration of college basketball and the wide spread recruiting of the Black athlete.
"I knew that this was more than just a game. This was history being made."
Modern Standard-Length Fit - SIZE CHART
- Material: Double Ply 100% Pro Aero Mesh
- Hemmed Pockets on Both Sides
- Elastic Waistband with Drawstring
- Sublimated Team Graphics
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