Synopses & Reviews
"An admirably researched account of the barrier-shattering championship game that slam-dunked segregated college basketball. Outside of Jackie Robinson's baseball debut, perhaps no single sporting event had so profound a social effect as the 1966 NCAA basketball championship. . . Fitzpatrick balances present-day interviews with the former players and surviving coaches with contemporaneous accounts to expose the sporting fraternity's subtle and not-so-subtle biases. . . Defying stereotypes and shrugging off tremendous stress, the Miners controlled the game and won; it was the Wildcats who were flummoxed. The game's 'message' was lost on Rupp, who, despite a loss that would haunt him to his grave, remained steadfast in his defense of racial segregation and held out against recruiting black players until the 1970s. Although Rupp has his apologistsand#8212;some of his former players try to soft-pedal his interdict on nonwhite playersand#8212;he comes across as a small-minded bigot who set race relations in Kentucky back several years, if not decades. Fair but devastating in its portrait of persistent prejudice, this is a landmark account of a landmark event."and#8212;Kirkus Reviews
"Social change comes in unexpected incrementsand#8212;like the 1966 NCAA men's basketball tournament. The 72and#8211;65 victory by Texas Western over Kentucky had tremendous social symbolism: Texas Western (today the University of Texas, El Paso) started five black playersand#8212;the first such occurrence in an NCAA championshipand#8212;and they thoroughly outplayed the all-white Kentucky squad, coached by Adolph Rupp, collegiate sports' intransigent exemplar of white supremacy."and#8212;New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Frank Fitzpatrick is a sportswriter for the Philadelphia Inquirer.