'Game of Change' honored

Updated: July 23, 2012, 5:04 PM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

Loyola and Mississippi State announced Monday they commemorate the 50th anniversary of the "Game of Change" by playing in a home-and-home series over the next two seasons.

Loyola and Mississippi State's meeting in the 1963 NCAA tournament was dubbed the "Game of Change" because Mississippi State, an all-white team, was prohibited from playing integrated teams and had to sneak out of state to face Loyola, which included four black starters. The game was considered a step forward in the civil rights movement.

Loyola defeated Mississippi State 61-51 and went on to win the NCAA championship.

"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 athletic director 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. The 1963 Loyola men's basketball team accomplished so much both on and off the basketball court, including winning the NCAA national championship, but the members of that team should also be celebrated for their multitude of achievements off the court as well."

Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin was also proud to commemorate what the two teams achieved.

"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," Stricklin said in a statement. 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."

Loyola and Mississippi State will play in Chicago on Dec. 15 and in Starkville, Miss. during the 2013-14 season.

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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