Adolph Rupp and the Rise of Kentucky Basketball

Adolph Rupp and the Rise of Kentucky Basketball

by James Duane Bolin


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Known as the "Man in the Brown Suit" and the "Baron of the Bluegrass," Adolph Rupp (1901–1977) is a towering figure in the history of college athletics. In Adolph Rupp and the Rise of Kentucky Basketball, historian James Duane Bolin goes beyond the wins and losses to present the fullest account of Rupp's life to date 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. His teams won four NCAA championships (1948, 1949, 1951, and 1958), the 1946 National Invitation Tournament title, and twenty-seven Southeastern Conference regular season titles. Rupp's influence on the game of college basketball and his impact on Kentucky culture are both much broader than his impressive record on the court.

Bolin covers Rupp's early years—from his rural upbringing in a German Mennonite family in Halstead, Kansas, through his undergraduate years at the University of Kansas playing on teams coached by Phog Allen and taking classes with James Naismith, the inventor of basketball—to his success at Kentucky. This revealing portrait of a pivotal figure in American sports also exposes how college basketball changed, for better or worse, in the twentieth century.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813181066
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 12/15/2020
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 1,172,342
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

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. He lives in Murray, Kentucky.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Introduction 6

1 The Halstead Years, 1901-1919 17

2 The University of Kansas and the Jayhawk Café, 1919-1923 28

3 Before Big Blue, 1923-1930 49

4 Building a Tradition, 1930-1941 70

5 World War II and the Games March On, 1941-1945 109

6 The Fabulous Five 134

7 The Golden Era, 1946-1951 153

8 Scandal 180

9 The Businessman at Home 202

10 From a Canceled Season to the Fiddlin' Five, 1952-1958 245

11 Rupp and Race 268

12 Rupp's Runts and Runners-Up 290

13 Transitional Times, 1966-1972 312

14 Forced Retirement and Post-UK Years 324

Epilogue 334

Acknowledgments 338

Notes 341

Index 381

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"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

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