Joe Dan Gold dies at age 68

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Former Mississippi State basketball player and coach Joe Dan Gold has died after a lengthy illness. He was 68.

Gold, a Benton, Ky., native, averaged 12.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game from 1961 to 1963 as the Bulldogs won or shared three Southeastern Conference titles. During his career, Mississippi State had a 65-13 overall record, including 36-6 in SEC play.

The 6-foot-5 Gold was a team captain as a senior, leading the Bulldogs to their first NCAA tournament appearance in 1963, where they lost to Loyola of Chicago 61-51 in the first round. It was the first game Mississippi State played against black players.

The Bulldogs, who were coached by Babe McCarthy, had to sneak out of the state for the game because of an unwritten rule that state universities would not play integrated teams. Then-MSU president Dr. Dean Wallace Colvard also helped the Bulldogs make the trip, defying Gov. Ross Barnett and a court injunction by the Mississippi legislature.

"I would like to express my sincerest sympathies to the family of Joe Dan Gold," MSU athletic director Scott Stricklin said in a prepared statement. "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."

Gold coached at Mississippi State from 1965 to 1970, with a 51-74 record in five seasons.

Gold also coached at Paducah Community College and Mercer in the 1970s before going into high school administration in Kentucky.

Gold was elected into Mississippi State's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996, and was recognized as an SEC legend in 2003.