Game of Change:
The Matchup that Transformed College Basketball
By Seanna Mullen Sumrak
The Game of Change was a historic moment not only for Loyola basketball, but for college basketball and this country—ushering in a dismantling of racial barriers in college athletics. For many, the Game of Change demonstrates the impact of sports, how it brings people together, and how it can create change when those involved challenge the status quo.
In the 1962-63 season, Coach George Ireland defied the unspoken rule to not have more than three black players on the court at one time. Of Loyola University Chicago’s five starters—Ron Miller, Jerry Harkness, Vic Rouse, Les Hunter, and John Egan—only Egan was white. And when he was subbed out, Loyola would have five black players on the court. The team faced discrimination and harassment throughout the season.
In the midst of the Civil Rights Movement, the Loyola Ramblers men’s basketball team made history in the NCAA Round of 16 when they played the all-white Mississippi State Bulldogs. The team was banned by state legislative order from playing against an integrated team. Bolstered by a determined coach James McCarthy and a fan base that no longer wanted to see its team miss games, Dean Colvard, the Mississippi State president, ensured that the team made it to the game. Both the Loyola and Mississippi State basketball teams battled for the right to play. Loyola emerged victorious, besting their opponent 61-51.
‘This is more than a ball game. This is history.”—Jerry Harkness
“This is more than a ball game. This is history.”Jerry Harkness