EAST LANSING, Mich. - In celebration of the 1963 "Game of Change," at Jenison Field House, Michigan State is hosting a three-day long tribute to the historical game that pitted Mississippi State and Loyola against each other.
The upcoming weekend at Michigan State is one Mark Hollis has been anticipating for a long time.
The game is remembered for the obstacles Mississippi State had to hurdle just to play in the NCAA Tournament game. At the time, playing a lineup of integrated players was greatly discouraged by the governing bodies, but the team snuck out of town in the night before the state's governor could prevent the team from playing.
Hollis originally wanted the Spartans to play against Loyola this upcoming weekend instead of last Saturday, but Loyola will host Mississippi State in a rematch this Saturday instead.
He turned to Tuskegee University, with its historical heritage of being a black university. The Spartans will play against Tuskegee Saturday night.
"It literally took them two seconds to say yes," Hollis said.
When the full slate of tributes, events, and basketball games kick off, the MSU Athletic Director is fine with finally taking a backseat and watching.
" I think the connection of the whole night is what I'm going to take the most enjoyment from," Hollis said.
Michigan State greats will align for an alumni basketball game at Jenison Friday night. Magic Johnson and Gus Ganakas, the Spartans head coach from 1969-76, will coach one team. Head football coach Mark Dantonio and Jud Heathcote will coach the other. Heathcote coached the Spartans from 1976-1995.
" The names that are coming back, it's like a walk through history of Spartan athletics. I think it's probably going to be the best reunion collection we've ever had, " Hollis said.
Tom Izzo is used to the ideas Hollis has up his sleeve. Monday, he offered his support of the game.
"I'm proud I work at a place that is willing to step out of the box," Izzo said.
Mateen Cleaves, Steve Smith and a slew of Spartans legends are set to suit up for the game Friday.
"I suspect a few of the guys will be in for maybe a two minute run and be ready to sit the bench the rest of the game."
" It's gonna be a fun, fun time Friday. Then of course, Saturday is what this is all about."
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