QUESTION: It was 45 years ago this week that Illinois Wesleyan and Illinois State universities played their last men’s basketball game against each other, a game won by IWU, 69-68, on a last-second shot by Tom Gramkow, who today is a State Farm agent in the Peoria area. Why did the two schools quit playing each other?
ANSWER: By 1970, a blossoming ISU was six times bigger than IWU, enrollment-wise, and ISU wanted out of the rivalry, even if IWU had a 68-42 edge in the series. At the final game, as told in a book by legendary IWU coach Dennie Bridges, the animosity between the two schools was evident. Writes Bridges, "While the two teams were warming up, a group of Illinois Wesleyan students paraded around the floor holding up a live chicken and held a sign that read, 'the real Redbird.' "