The newly minted Pope Francis is the first Jesuit Pope ever. Perfect time to highlight the accomplishments of a Jesuit school in Loyola. Quick what’s the only Illinois team to win it all in college basketball? It’s the 1963 Loyola Ramblers. The Illini reached the title game in 2005 and have made five Final Fours but never cut down the nets. DePaul has two Final Fours to their credit, but no titles.
Ramblers: Loyola Chicago 1963—The Team that Changed the Color of College Basketball, by Michael Lenehan. Ramblers is the dramatic, deeply engrossing, and meticulously researched story behind the 1963 NCAA basketball tournament, which featured seven African-American starters in the championship game. With the 50th anniversary of the Loyola Ramblers’ championship victory just around the corner, this is an important story that needs to be told. March Madness is the perfect time to reflect on sports and politics Civil Rights era. This team predates the famous Texas Western championship unit featured in the popular film “Glory Road” by three years.
I had an exclusive interview with Author Michael Lenehan who was also recently featured in the Sunday New York Times, writing about the effect this story had on African-American athletes and on sports in general.
First, an excerpt from his NY Times article to set the scene, remind us of how far we’ve come, but also how far we’ve yet to go.
Go here for the Lenehan interview
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of visitors. He’s an author who also contributes regularly to MSN, Fox Sports , Chicago Now, Walter Football.com and Yardbarker