University of Evansville

University of Evansville men’s basketball team plane crash

The University of Evansville men’s basketball plane crash occurred on December 13, 1977, at 20:22 EST, when a Douglas DC-3, registration N51071 carrying the University of Evansville basketball team, crashed on takeoff at the Evansville Regional Airport in Evansville, Indiana. The aircraft lost control and crashed shortly after lift-off. The plane was on its way to Nashville International Airport, taking the team to play the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.

University of Evansville

Two weeks after the crash, the only member of the basketball team who was not on the DC-3 was killed after being hit by a drunk driver, leaving all of the members of the 1977 Purple Aces Basketball team dead.

University of Evansville

A memorial has been constructed at the University of Evansville known as the “Weeping Basketball.” On stone slabs are engraved the names of the members killed in both the plane crash as well as the student killed in a car accident two weeks after the crash. Also engraved are the words of the University of Evansville president: “Out of the agony of this hour we will rise.”

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