Loyola Chicago legend Jerry Harkness dies at 81

8/24/2021 5:19:20 PM EST

Legendary guard Jerry Harkness, who led Loyola Chicago to the 1963 national championship, died on Tuesday morning. He was 81.

The university announced Harkness' death but didn't divulge a cause.

Harkness was a two-time All-American at the school, which was known as Loyola at the time.

"All of us at Loyola have heavy hearts today," Ramblers coach Drew Valentine said in a statement. "Jerry was a true trail blazer not only in basketball, but in so many different walks of life, and the impact he made was immeasurable."



Loyola upset powerhouse Cincinnati 60-58 in overtime in the 1963 title game. The Ramblers trailed by 15 with under 14 minutes left in regulation before pulling off a big comeback and forcing OT on Harkness' late basket.

The 6-foot-2 Harkness, the team captain, was one of four Black starters on the team in an era in which many programs didn't recruit players of color.

One of the more memorable games during the 1963 NCAA Tournament was Loyola's matchup with all-white Mississippi State. State laws prohibited Mississippi teams from playing integrated schools but Mississippi State slipped out of town to play the game at East Lansing, Mich., and the contest became known as "The Game of Change."

Before tipoff, Harkness and Mississippi State captain Joe Dan Gold shook hands and the exchange produced a memorable photo. Harkness scored 20 points in a 61-51 victory.

Fifty years after the championship, the 1963 Loyola team was honored at the White House.

The story of that team has become well known in recent years due to Loyola Chicago's NCAA Final Four run in 2018.

"As soon as I learned the story of the 1963 Ramblers basketball team, Jerry became one of my role models," current Loyola Chicago guard Lucas Williamson said in a news release. "He will be deeply missed and forever remembered as one of the best to wear a Loyola jersey."

Harkness played three seasons at Loyola (1960-63) and still ranks sixth in program history with 1,749 points. He is a member of the College Basketball Hall of Fame.

"We are deeply saddened to have lost not only one of Loyola's all-time great players, but also one of its all-time great human beings," Ramblers athletic director Steve Watson said in the news release. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, former teammates and countless friends."

Harkness was a second-round draft pick (ninth overall) of the New York Knicks in the 1963 draft. He played in just five games for the Knicks and averaged 5.8 points.

Later, he played two seasons for the Indiana Pacers (1967-69) of the ABA and averaged 7.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 81 games.

"We are saddened to learn of the passing of Jerry Harkness, whose accolades as a gifted athlete and basketball player were outweighed only by his servant's heart and commitment to others," the Pacers said in a statement. "He was loved for his selflessness and service, and it was clear to all that what motivated him most was his relentless passion for growing community. Jerry was a true Hall of Famer, on and off the court."

--Field Level Media

NFL

Sun, 17 Oct 2021 15:47:13 EST Report: Raiders, Jon Gruden expected to reach contract settlement
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 17:04:48 EST Kirk Cousins, Vikings down Panthers in overtime
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 16:18:58 EST Ravens shut down Justin Herbert, zap Chargers 34-6
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 16:27:46 EST Rodgers again leads Packers by Bears
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 16:18:33 EST Jonathan Taylor posts big second half as Colts thwart Texans
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 16:16:03 EST Rams flatten Giants with huge second quarter
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 16:12:26 EST Joe Burrow throws 3 TDs as Bengals beat hapless Lions
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 16:25:52 EST Chiefs dominate second half to win at Washington
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 14:13:38 EST Report: Texans RT Marcus Cannon to miss rest of season
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 13:42:48 EST Giants WR Kadarius Toney injures ankle, out vs. Rams

MLB

Sun, 17 Oct 2021 17:27:21 EST Dodgers 3B Justin Turner (neck) not in Game 2 lineup
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 12:09:12 EST Dodgers, Max Scherzer favored to even NLCS at Braves in Game 2
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 02:46:28 EST Max Scherzer looking to pull Dodgers even with Braves in NLCS
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 01:32:04 EST Braves take NLCS opener over Dodgers in walk-off win
Sat, 16 Oct 2021 22:09:01 EST Red Sox belt two grand slams, even up ALCS with Astros
Sat, 16 Oct 2021 13:02:05 EST Dodgers turn to Corey Knebel to start Game 1 vs. Braves
Sat, 16 Oct 2021 20:05:08 EST Braves RHP Chris Martin added to NLCS roster
Sat, 16 Oct 2021 02:31:34 EST Red Sox turn to Nathan Eovaldi in Game 2 vs. Astros
Sat, 16 Oct 2021 01:19:33 EST Carlos Correa powers Astros past Red Sox in ALCS opener
Sat, 16 Oct 2021 13:18:03 EST Nail-biter Dodgers, rested Braves ready to begin NLCS rematch

NBA

Sun, 17 Oct 2021 17:06:07 EST NBA power rankings: Lakers, Nets (who else?) lead the way
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 16:01:44 EST Reports: Celtics waive F Jabari Parker
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 15:18:24 EST Suns' Mikal Bridges agrees to 4-year, $90 million extension
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 14:42:51 EST Doc Rivers: 76ers' Ben Simmons not in 'game shape'
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 12:29:51 EST Grizzlies exercise rookie option for Ja Morant, two others
Sat, 16 Oct 2021 22:32:17 EST Rockets release G Dante Exum
Sat, 16 Oct 2021 17:54:01 EST Veteran G Avery Bradley among six players cut by Warriors
Sat, 16 Oct 2021 16:46:35 EST Mavericks waive 2020 draft pick Tyrell Terry
Sat, 16 Oct 2021 14:50:18 EST Knicks sign G Brandon Knight to contract
Sat, 16 Oct 2021 13:11:44 EST Report: Cavaliers sign Tacko Fall to two-way contract

NHL

Sun, 17 Oct 2021 16:56:38 EST Avs star Nathan MacKinnon remains in COVID-19 protocol
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 16:53:12 EST Fentanyl, cocaine involved in former Bruin Jimmy Hayes' death
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 15:15:26 EST Banged-up Leafs, Rangers each looking for second straight W
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 11:13:56 EST Flames look for power-play turnaround vs. Ducks
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 14:15:04 EST Auston Matthews to return for Leafs; G Petr Mrazek (groin) out 2 weeks
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 02:26:37 EST NHL roundup: Connor McDavid’s hat trick powers Oilers
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 02:19:27 EST Stars, Senators face off in search of bounce-back win
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 01:19:56 EST Cam Talbot, Wild fend off Kings, 3-2
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 01:21:55 EST Connor McDavid’s hat trick powers Oilers past Flames
Sun, 17 Oct 2021 01:03:08 EST Young Sharks open their season by nipping Jets