STARKVILLE, Miss.--A resolution honoring Mississippi State University's participation in the historic 1963 NCAA men's basketball matchup against Loyola University Chicago was introduced today [July 11] in the U.S. Senate.
U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) joined their colleagues from Illinois on sponsoring the resolution which specifically pays tribute to the MSU team's significant contributions in racial reconciliation. The MSU-Loyola matchup has become known as the "Game of Change" for its historical impact on civil rights.
S.Res.194 stated, "The U.S. Senate honors the 1963 Mississippi State University men's basketball team for their bravery and sportsmanship in rejecting racism and aiding in the civil rights movement in the State of Mississippi and the southeastern United States." Introduced by Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), the resolution also was co-sponsored by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
"The Mississippi State and Loyola teams, along with their coaches and school administrators, led with courage, sportsmanship and a love of the game of basketball. That contest a half century ago undoubtedly helped to move Mississippi and our nation forward in addressing the inequalities of our society," Cochran said.
"Sports have always played an important role in breaking down barriers -- from Jesse Owens to Jackie Robinson to Billie Jean King," Wicker said. "The 'Game of Change' should be included in that list of seminal moments in American history. The matchup between Mississippi State and Loyola was a critical step toward erasing the racial divide. The courage of these young men and their coaches deserves to be honored."
While addressing MSU's decision to take part in a game against a racially-integrated Loyola team, the resolution especially points to Loyola's 1963 national championship and 2013 induction into the National College Basketball Hall of Fame.
Even though Mississippi State lost to Loyola in the NCAA regional semifinals, that game ranks among MSU's and the state's finest hours both in athletics and racial reconciliation. Until this time, the team had been prohibited from participating in the NCAA Tournament because of the possibility of playing a team with African-American players. However, after being invited in 1963, the team defied state law and devised a plan to sneak off campus to play in the tournament.