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Indiana coach remembers team killed in 1977 crash

 

A former University of Evansville assistant basketball coach says he's still haunted 40 years after a plane crash in southwestern Indiana killed all members of the school's men's basketball team.

Stafford Stephenson tells the Courier and Press he was one of three assistant coaches on recruiting trips when a DC-3 chartered to carry the Purple Aces to a game in Nashville, Tennessee, crashed shortly after takeoff on Dec. 13, 1977. Federal investigators blamed flight crew negligence.

The crash killed all 29 people onboard, including the 14 team members and head coach.

During the 1977-78 season, the team dropped its opener to Western Kentucky at Roberts Stadium. The team traveled to Chicago and lost to DePaul, defeated Pittsburgh, then lost on the road to a Larry Bird-led Indiana State team.

P.J. Harrigan

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