ACC Basketball: The Story of the Rivalries, Traditions, and Scandals of the First Two Decades of the Atlantic Coast Conference

ACC Basketball: The Story of the Rivalries, Traditions, and Scandals of the First Two Decades of the Atlantic Coast Conference

ACC Basketball: The Story of the Rivalries, Traditions, and Scandals of the First Two Decades of the Atlantic Coast Conference

ACC Basketball: The Story of the Rivalries, Traditions, and Scandals of the First Two Decades of the Atlantic Coast Conference

Synopsis

Since the inception of the Atlantic Coast Conference, intense rivalries, legendary coaches, gifted players, and fervent fans have come to define the league's basketball history. In ACC Basketball, J. Samuel Walker traces the traditions and the dramatic changes that occurred both on and off the court during the conference's rise to a preeminent position in college basketball between 1953 and 1972.

Walker vividly re-creates the action of nail-biting games and the tensions of bitter recruiting battles without losing sight of the central off-court questions the league wrestled with during these two decades. As basketball became the ACC's foremost attraction, conference administrators sought to field winning teams while improving academic programs and preserving academic integrity. The ACC also adapted gradually to changes in the postwar South, including, most prominently, the struggle for racial justice during the 1960s. ACC Basketball is a lively, entertaining account of coaches' flair (and antics), players' artistry, a major point-shaving scandal, and the gradually more evenly matched struggle for dominance in one of college basketball's strongest conferences.

Excerpt

I became a passionate fan of Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) basketball when I began graduate school in history at the University of Maryland in 1969. I arrived at Maryland in the same year as its new coach, Lefty Driesell, though with considerably less fanfare. For three years, I cheered for Maryland and reviled its opponents, especially its ACC rivals. My loyalties shifted dramatically in 1972, when my brother Wally enrolled at the University of Virginia on a basketball scholarship. For four years, I rooted fanatically for Virginia while defaming its opponents. I had the disheartening experience of watching Virginia lose every game in Wally’s career at Maryland’s Cole Field House, while the home fans at my own school jeered my brother and disparaged his team. I gained a measure, make that a great deal, of satisfaction, along with bragging rights, when Virginia defeated Maryland in the 1976 ACC Tournament and went on to win the conference championship.

After Wally graduated, I remained an interested, though less fervent, ACC fan. I cheered for both Virginia and Maryland (and, of course, vilified their opponents). In 2006, after following ACC basketball for nearly four decades, I decided it would make a good topic for a book. At that time, I was looking for an enjoyable research project to work on when I retired in the not-too-distant future. During my career as a professional historian, I had published several books on subjects that included President Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan and the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident. I was pleased with the reception of the books I wrote, but I wanted to do something different in retirement.

One day, in a bolt out of the blue, I came up with the idea of writing a book on the early history of ACC basketball. It seemed like a fun topic that would also necessarily cover serious issues relating to the role of sports in educational institutions. Once I discovered that the university archives of schools that were members of the ACC during the 1950s and 1960s contained a wealth of useful and fascinating documentary material, I was on my way. And in fact, the topic turned out to be so enjoyable that I could not wait until retirement to write it. When I began this project, I knew little about ACC basketball in the period before I started graduate school, and . . .

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