Former Iona Player Accepts Invitation Of Ole Miss Chancellor To NCAA Game

Former Iona basketball player Stanley Hill, left, smiles after he was presented with an autographed basketball by Mississippi coach Rod Barnes during a news conference Thursday, March 15, 2001, in Kansas City, Mo.(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

March 13, 2001

OXFORD, Miss.-- Forty-four years after The University of Mississippi basketball team was prevented from playing Iona College because the Gaels had a black player, Stanley Hill will be Ole Miss' guest when the two teams meet Friday in the NCAA Tournament.

Hill and his wife, Ruby, of Jamaica Queens, New York, Tuesday accepted an invitation from UM Chancellor Robert Khayat to attend the Ole Miss-Iona game in the first round of the NCAA Midwest Regional in Kansas City.

Ole Miss was forced to forfeit its game against Iona at Kentucky Wesleyan's All-American Holiday Tournament in Owensboro, Ky., on January 2, 1957, when then Mississippi Governor J.P. Coleman ordered the school not to play the integrated team. There was never any record of the game in the university's athletics department files and Khayat first learned about the incident in a New York newspaper story Tuesday. He immediately contacted Hill and issued the invitation.

"Sports has played a tremendous role in changing American society for the better," said Hill. "When I saw that Mississippi now has a black coach I thought it was wonderful to see the changes that have occurred."

Ironically, Chancellor Khayat also has painful memories of that time. Khayat was an All-Southeastern Conference catcher on the 1959 Ole Miss baseball team which won the SEC championship. That team was prevented from participating in the 1959 NCAA baseball tournament because the governor also forbid that squad from playing against black players.

Hill, a retired union official, said he would sit with the Ole Miss fans for at least a half.

"But I'm still planning to cheer for Iona," he said.

Ole Miss, which won this year's SEC Western Division championship, enters Friday's 6:55 p.m. (Central) game with a 25-7 record. Iona is 22-10 and champions of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MACC). The game will be telecast by CBS-TV with the winner advancing to Sunday's second round against either Notre Dame or Xavier.

 

 

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