Loyola (Ill.), Mississippi State to commemorate 50th anniversary of ‘Game of Change’ with home-and-home series

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Sports often have implications that reach beyond the playing field or court of competition, just as they did back in 1963 when the predominantly black Loyola University Chicago Ramblers took on the all-white Mississippi State Bulldogs in that year’s NCAA tournament.

Known as the “Game of Change,” the Bulldogs defied unwritten rules that prohibited them from playing against integrated teams, sneaking out of the state in the middle of the night to skirt around the restrictions of Mississippi governor Ross Barnett.

Loyola won that game in East Lansing, Mich., 61-51, and on Dec. 15, 2012, the two teams will meet for the first time since that historic game nearly 50 years ago.

In a joint press release Tuesday, it was announced that Mississippi State will go on the road to face the Ramblers on Dec. 15 as the first part of a home-and-home series that will conclude with a game in Starkville in the 2013-14 season.

“On the 50th anniversary of the famous `Game of Change’ we are thrilled that Mississippi State was willing to partner with us to recognize the historical significance of this contest,” Loyola Assistant Vice President and Director of Athletics Dr. M. Grace Calhoun said in a statement. “Loyola’s 1963 NCAA Tournament game versus Mississippi State served as a vehicle to challenge segregation and helped to forever change college basketball and civil rights in this country.”

During that 1963 season, Loyola went on to win the national championship, defeating Cincinnati.

“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,” Mississippi State Athletics Director Scott Stricklin said in the release. “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.”

Mississippi State comes of a season where they will be losing key players Arnett Moultrie, Dee Bost, Rodney Hood, and Renardo Sidney, while Loyola returns All-Horizon Second Team forward Ben Averkamp.

Photo Credit: NCAA

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_