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When the sport integrated in 1965-66, Pearl went 31-0 and won the state title.) Two-time All-American forward Jerry Harkness (senior) and guard Ron Miller (junior) came to Chicago from the Bronx, as did reserve guard Pablo Robertson (sophomore), who went on to a career with the Harlem Globetrotters.Harkness didn’t play varsity basketball until his senior year in high school.In 1961 Ireland became the first coach in major college basketball to start five black players. George Ireland’s decision to eschew the sport’s unwritten rules was effective.

Fifty years ago, and three years before Texas Western’s historic NCAA Tournament upset of Kentucky, the 1963 Loyola Ramblers went on an NCAA Tournament run that would change college basketball forever.

There were no Selection Sunday-style celebrations in Starkville, Mississippi on March 11, 1963 when the SEC champion Mississippi State Maroons learned whom they would be playing in their opening NCAA Tournament game.

But the Ramblers of the early 1960s were interested in more than just winning.

They forced the college basketball world to take notice of the injustice of segregation.

Instead of staying in the team hotel, Harkness, Miller, Rouse, and Hunter spent the night with African American families in New Orleans.

The two Loyolas played in front of an all-white crowd because black fans had boycotted the game on account of segregated seating in the Loyola of New Orleans gym.

He recruited post players Les Hunter and Vic Rouse, both juniors on the 1963 team, out of Pearl High School, an all-black school in Nashville, Tennessee.

(At the time, high school basketball in Tennessee was segregated.

The Mississippi State Maroons (now Bulldogs) had won the SEC in 1959, 1961, and 1962 but each time had turned down their automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on account of an unwritten law in the state of Mississippi that forbade racially integrated athletic competition.


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