MSU, Loyola To Meet In Historical Game To Commemorate '63 Outing
But this time, the Bulldogs won't be forced to sneak out of town due to an injunction to play the Ramblers, as the case was in 1963.
On three occasions prior to that season, MSU was prohibited from participating in the NCAA Tournament due to the possibility of playing a team with African-American players. At the time, Mississippi had an unwritten rule preventing its schools from competing against integrated programs.
In 1963, however, legendary coach "Babe" McCarthy, with the support of university President Dean Colvard, was able to get his team out of Mississippi and on a plane to Michigan before Gov. Ross Barnett and other political leaders could serve papers preventing the Bulldogs from playing in their first NCAA Tournament game and against a Loyola team in the Mideast Region semifinal that had four African-American starters.
The No. 3-ranked Ramblers, behind Jerry Harkness' 20 points, went on to defeat Mississippi State 61-51 at famed Jenison Field House en route to winning the national championship.
Despite the setback, it was an outing that changed the course of history in Mississippi and an event that proved to be more than just a game. It was also moment in time that wasn't lost on the NCAA, as the governing body of collegiate athletics in 2008 named this game as one of the 25 "defining moments" in the first 100 years of the NCAA.
"The 1963 SEC champion Bulldogs were given the opportunity previous Mississippi State teams were denied - to compete for a national championship against the best teams in the country," MSU athletics director Scott Stricklin said. "To do so, they had to defy a sitting Governor, avoid a court injunction and sneak out of the state. We're excited to join Loyola over the next two seasons in celebrating this historic occasion. Loyola won a national championship; Mississippi State helped to make for a better way of life. As a Bulldog, I'm proud of this team and the individuals who helped move our state forward when doing so took courage and conviction.
Last year, Loyola posted a 7-23 record with new coach Porter Moser at the helm. Three starters return from that team, including forward Ben Averkamp, who averaged a team-high 15.4 points and 7.1 rebounds.
The two teams are also scheduled to play in 2013 at Humphrey Coliseum, with the date and time to be determined at a later date.
"I am honored to be part of this game that recognizes the 50 year anniversary of a historic game that needs continued recognition and the story to be re-told to a younger generation," first-year MSU coach Rick Ray said. "I wanted this game to happen regardless of the location because of how important it is to both Mississippi State's and Loyola's basketball legacy. This game will be a great experience for our players as they learn about the significance of that 1963 NCAA game against these two storied programs."
The remainder of MSU's schedule will be announced at a later date.