Joe Dan Gold had a fine basketball career at Mississippi State, earning third-team All-SEC honors his senior season, when as team captain he led the Bulldogs to their first-ever NCAA tournament. That’s a trip MSU almost didn’t get to make.
You probably know the story. The opponent, Loyola of Chicago, featured four black starters. So Mississippi Gov. Ross Barnett forbade the Bulldogs from leaving the state. But the team snuck out of town, played the game, and made some history. MSU lost, 61-51, but the result wasn’t that important obviously. And you might have seen this picture before, of Gold shaking hands with Loyola’s Jerry Harkness.
Gold was a 6-foot-5 forward who averaged 12.3 points and 7.8 rebounds during his career under Babe McCarthy. Gold then took over as head coach in 1965 at age 23 and went 51-74 in five seasons.
Gold later coached at Paducah (Ky.) Community College and Mercer before becoming a high school administrator in Kentucky. He was elected to the MSU Hall of Fame in 1996 and was recognized as an SEC Legend in 2003.
Gold, a native of Benton, Ky., who lived in West Liberty at the time of his death, is survived by his wife, Rosemary.
“He was a great Bulldog and a leader on one of the greatest teams in school history, the 1963 team that played in the NCAA Tournament, a moment in history that will never be forgotten,” AD Scott Stricklin said in a statement. “He achieved a lot on the court and in the classroom for Mississippi State before going on to become a great educator. He will be greatly missed.”