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Adolph Rupp and the Rise of Kentucky Basketball

Known as the "Man in the Brown Suit" and "Baron of the Bluegrass," Adolph Rupp (1901–1977) is a towering figure in the history of college athletics. From 1930 until his retirement in 1972, Rupp coached the University of Kentucky men's basketball team to unprecedented success. His teams won four NCAA championships (1948, 1949, 1951, and 1958) and twenty-seven Southeastern Conference regular season titles. He was also the winningest coach in NCAA division I men's basketball history, a distinction he held for thirty years.

Based on more than one hundred interviews with Rupp, his assistant coaches, former players, University of Kentucky presidents and faculty members, and his admirers and critics, as well as court transcripts, newspaper accounts, and other archival materials, this biography presents the fullest account of Rupp's life to date. James Duane Bolin covers his early years—from his rural upbringing in a German Mennonite family in Halstead, Kansas, through his time at the University of Kansas playing on teams coached by Phog Allen and taking classes with James Naismith, the inventor of basketball—as well as his success at Kentucky.

Adolph Rupp changed sports in America. The fame and fortune that Rupp found with the Wildcats also changed him. Rupp's inability—or was it unwillingness?—to integrate the UK basketball program until the very end of his coaching career caused critics to consider his name synonymous with the segregationist South. This biography also considers the possibility that, as sportswriter Dave Kindred wrote, Rupp "disliked all people equally, whatever their color, if they happened to stand in the way of his team winning a game." Bolin also addresses the point-shaving scandal of 1951, which presaged NCAA violations that rocked college sports in the years that followed. Rupp pioneered athletic recruitment and scholarship offers. He was the first Kentucky coach to schedule games outside of the South, and he took a lead in promoting the sport at a national level. Adolph Rupp and the Rise of Kentucky Basketball not only presents a portrait of a pivotal figure in American sports—it also reveals how college basketball changed, for better or worse, in the twentieth century.

About the Author

James Duane Bolin is professor emeritus of history at Murray State University. He is the author of Home and Away: A Professor's Journal, Bossism and Reform in a Southern City: Lexington, Kentucky, 1880-1940, and Kentucky Baptists, 1925–2000: A Story of Cooperation.

Review

"Coach Adolph Rupp is an historic figure who looms larger than life. In this extremely well-written and researched biography, Bolin has scoured newspaper articles, oral histories, and secondary sources to present Rupp's story, literally from cradle to grave. This book will be the standard and enduring biography of Rupp for years to come."—John Thelin, University of Kentucky

"Legions of Big Blue Nation followers may deify Rupp as the man who created a basketball dynasty, but the author shows Rupp to be different things to different people: a loving father, a devoted husband, a loyal friend, a benevolent boss to his secretary and farm manager, a boss suspicious of his assistant coaches, a martinet in khakis to his players, and a racial conundrum. This book chronicles his success while, at times, it strips the Rupp legend down to the studs. It is a "warts and all" examination of a very complex, self-centered, but highly successful basketball coach and businessman."—James W. Miller, author of Integrated: The Lincoln Institute, Basketball, and a Vanished Tradition

"James Duane Bolin puts Adolph Rupp's life under the microscope in this meticulously researched book. Bolin takes readers on an engaging journey, from Rupp's humble Mennonite upbringing in rural Kansas to his recollection of playing with his first basketball made out of a gunnysack, and on to Lexington, Kentucky, where he became one of the most successful and controversial coaches in college basketball history. There's no agenda here beyond a frank effort to understand the legacy of Adolph Rupp."—Doug Brunk, author of Forty Minutes to Glory: Inside the Kentucky Wildcats' 1978 Championship Season

"This detailed and richly researched biography is written in a clear and engaging manner that reflects the work of a historian at the top of his game. Bolin is definitely fully engaged with Adolph Rupp's multi-faceted life and has demonstrated his mastery of his wide-ranging sources. An excellent book!"—Richard O. Davies, Distinguished Profess or History, Emeritus, University of Nevada, Reno

9780813177205 : adolph-rupp-and-the-rise-of-kentucky-basketball-bolin
Hardback
February 22, 2019
$40.00 USD
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Electronic book text
February 22, 2019
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February 22, 2019
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Other Titles by James Duane Bolin

Bossism and Reform in a Southern City

James Duane Bolin
Jan 2015 - University Press of Kentucky
$40.00 USD - Hardback
$40.00 USD - Electronic book text

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