Loyola University Chicago

Department of Theology




The Peace, Justice and Conflict Studies Program invites you to join us for a film screening of IRON FIVE: THE STORY OF THE 1963 LOYOLA BASKETBALL TEAM. A conversation with Director and Producer, Rino Liberatore, and with Team Captain of the 1963 Loyola Basketball Team and NCAA Most Valuable Player,
Jerry Harkness, will be held following the screening.

When: Friday, January 29th at 7-8pm

Where: Zoom Webinar – Registration Required

Who May attend: the Loyola Community and the General Public

Sponsored by: The Peace, Justice, And Conflict Studies Program, The Global And International Studies Program, The Theology Department, The History Department, The Sociology Department, The African Studies And African Diaspora Program, Military Science and The Black Graduate Student Alliance.

For more information, contact William French at wfrench@luc.edu

Film Description

This film is about two stories. The best known is the basketball story. Loyola went on to win the NCAA basketball title. It is the only time an Illinois team has ever won. But the greater story is one of courage in the face of racial injustice. An unwritten rule in the NCAA was that no college team could field more than two Black players on the court. Loyola’s coach wanted to win and he recruited strong Black players.  His starting line-up had four Black players—Jerry Harkness, Ron Miller, Les Hunter, and Vic Rouse. Jack Eagan was the sole white starter. This team crashed a barrier and they bore up even though they received hate mail and threats.  They entered the NCAA tournament with a 24-2 record. They were set to play Mississippi State University whose team was strong but had been prevented by their governor for playing any racially integrated teams for the last two years. The governor ordered the Mississippi State team not to play.  Their coach and team disobeyed and flew to Michigan to play Loyola. A Mississippi white player shook hands with a Loyola black player to start the game. There was respect and guts on both sides. Though Loyola won the game, the Mississippi coach said that in an important way both teams won. This game is known now as The Game of Change for it shattered a racist barrier in college basketball.

Loyola’s intensely dramatic win in the NCAA finals against Cincinnati was a nail-biter.  Jerry Harkness, Loyola’s forward and an All American was scoreless at halftime. Loyola was down by 15 points at halftime. Loyola and Harkness caught fire and tied the game. It went into overtime. Loyola made a final basket and Loyola won by two points.  Some sportscasters have named this the NCAA’s “greatest game.”

Biography of Jerry Harkness

Jerry Harkness began his athletic career in Harlem, New York leading his team to win the High School City Championship in basketball and capturing the 1000-yard run in track. Harkness received a scholarship to Loyola University Chicago where he led the Ramblers to the 1963 NCAA Basketball title. He was named Consensus All American and Most Valuable Player in the East-West All State game. Mr. Harkness got his degree in Sociology and became the first African American store merchandiser for the Quaker Oats Company.

After a short time with the New York Knickerbockers, Jerry became a member of the American Basketball Association (ABA) Indiana Pacers. While playing for the Pacers in 1967, he made the longest three-point shot in pro basketball history. He held that record for 34 years. It is still the longest shot to win a game.

Following his retirement from the Indiana Pacers, Harkness became the first African American Indiana Sportscaster for television station WTHR-13 for twelve years and the same position with WTLC radio. He was a sports analyst for the Indiana Pacers and Loyola University Chicago. He was also the first African American fundraiser for the United Way of Central Indiana where he spent the next 25 years of his career.

Mr. Harkness is one of the founders of the 100 Black Men of Indianapolis and Indiana Black Expo. He has received numerous awards: NCAA Silver Anniversary Community Service Award, Boy Scout This is Your Life Service Award, The Jefferson Community Service Award, Sports Illustrated Award, Muhammad Ali Award, NCAA Loyola (only team) Inducted into College Basketball Hall of Fame, Captain of the Loyola team recognized by President Barack Obama in the White House. Jerry was inducted into the Indiana, Manhattan and Harlem Basketball Hall Fame and his basketball number 15 is retired at Loyola Chicago.

Mr. Harkness has just written his first book, a memoir called “Connections”. He and his wife Sarah are members of Eastern Star Church. He has two children Jerald and Julie Lyn Arnold. Four grandchildren, Kara, Kiley, Anna Grace and Ashlyn.