Image courtesy of University of Evansville

After the Crash

The days following December 13, 1977, were a period of intense mourning for the University of Evansville, and for residents of the city who had embraced the Aces as THEIR sports team.

The University held a memorial for the team the following day, with members of the city and the University community flooding the campus’s Neu Chapel. Four days later, the community mourned publicly at a city-wide memorial inside Roberts Stadium, where everyone from the victims’ families to the Governor of Indiana gathered to pay their respects to the fallen Aces.

Already, University officials had agreed to cancel the season - even while continuing plans to host UE’s annual Holiday Tournament, with rival Southern Illinois University volunteering to step in and play as the host team in the Aces’ place. The following months brought numerous benefits across Evansville - perhaps the largest being a basketball game between popular Aces Basketball alums and Bobby Watson’s hometown gridiron squad - the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

"The Steelers' game," said former Assistant Coach Stafford Stephenson, "was the first time I remember their being joy in Roberts Stadium after the plane crash."