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Why Michigan State hopes to honor Loyola-Mississippi State game

Mark Hollis, Mark Dantonio

In this Oct. 22, 2011, photo, Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis, left, talks with football coach Mark Dantonio before an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin in East Lansing, Mich. The Big Ten, which helped squash the notion of a four-team playoff to crown a national champion in college football several years ago, is taking another look. “All of the Big Ten athletic directors are comfortable exploring the possibility of a four-team playoff,” Hollis said Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2012. “Four is better than two.” (AP Photo/Al Goldis)


There is no one in college athletics that has come up with more creative locales for sporting events that Michigan State AD Mark Hollis.

It was his idea to play the Carrier Classic on a boat out in San Diego last year. It was his idea to play a Michigan St.-Michigan hockey game at Spartan Stadium in 2001. It was his idea to get the Spartans playing games in Ford Field just a few years later. He’s even pushing for a game between MSU (the Spartans) and USC (the Trojans) in Greece. The guy’s part-certifiable, part-genius.

And I love it! (Especially if NBC picks up the tab for me to cover the game out in Greece.)

Anyway, Hollis has another trick up his sleeve:

Fifty years ago this March, Loyola of Chicago and Mississippi State met at Jenison in the 1963 NCAA tournament Mideast Regional semifinals in a game that has its place in the civil rights movement of that era.

Mississippi State’s all-white squad defied a court injunction, sneaking out of the state to East Lansing to face a Loyola team with four black starters.

“The historical significance of that game needs to be recognized,” Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis said Tuesday, before appearing at a fan event in Berrien Springs. “I don’t think a lot of people in Michigan are aware that game was played there and we want to make sure that story is told.”

Hollis is hoping to do so with a commemorative game this coming season at Jenison Field House.

Another awesome idea.

While seeing Mississippi State play Loyola (IL) is not exactly on the same level as seeing Michigan State take on North Carolina, celebrating such a momentous occasion is absolutely a good thing. And, to be honest, I had never heard a thing about the game or its significance prior to stumbling upon that article from

At the very least, this is a chance to raise awareness about one of college basketball’s contributions to the Civil Rights movement.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.