For the first time in history, an entire team will be inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.
Loyola's 1963 men's squad will be presented the honors on Nov. 24, exactly 50 years after defeating the University of Cincinnati and winning the NCAA championship. But their induction doesn't just celebrate their accomplishments on the court. It also celebrates the strides they made in athletics as a whole after starting a lineup that included four African-American players against an all-white Mississippi team that previously could not play against integrated squads in the postseason.
That game -- also known as the Game of Change -- altered college basketball forever.
“The induction of our team into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame is a tremendous honor for all of us,” center Les Hunter, a member of the 1963 Loyola team, said. “Loyola helped tear down the color barrier in college basketball and our national championship game against Cincinnati, which was the first nationally televised NCAA title game, showed that the brand of black basketball was exciting and it provided for more exposure and recruiting for future players. We are very proud and humbled by this great honor.”
Loyola went on to defeat Mississippi 61-51 before beating two-time defending champion Cincinnati for the title.
“The 1963 Loyola men’s basketball team played a pivotal role in helping change college basketball,” Loyola Assistant Vice President and Director of Athletics Dr. M. Grace Calhoun said. “To be recognized for the remarkable courage they displayed while dealing with the racial tension they faced on daily basis, their fantastic accomplishments on the court, including bringing the only NCAA Division I men’s basketball title to the state of Illinois, as well as their many academic and professional achievements off the court, is a tremendous and most deserved honor.”