On December 13, 1977, a twin-engine DC-3 airplane crashed near Evansville Regional Airport. All 29 passengers, including fourteen members of the University of Evansville basketball team, its coaches, two fans, and five members of the Evansville staff, died. The team was on their way to a game at Middle Tennessee State University. The team had just entered Division I and, perhaps out of this new status, opted to charter a plane instead of a bus.

Within a week of the crash, the university revealed plans for a memorial, featuring a weeping basketball fountain. Ground officially broke for the memorial on March 30, 1978, but building did not commence right away, as family members of the victims and university students would later lay the bricks themselves.

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