Big money NCAA basketball had its origins in a many-sided conflict of visions and agendas. On one side stood large schools focused on a commercialized game that privileged wins and profits. Opposing them was a tenuous alliance of liberal arts colleges, historically black colleges, and regional state universities, and the competing interests of the NAIA, each with distinct interests of their own.
Kurt Edward Kemper tells the dramatic story of the clashes that shook college basketball at mid-century—and how the repercussions continue to influence college sports to the present day. Taking readers inside the competing factions, he details why historically black colleges and regional schools came to embrace commercialization. As he shows, the NCAA's strategy of co-opting its opponents gave each group just enough just enough to play along—while the victory of the big-time athletics model handed the organization the power to seize control of college sports.
An innovative history of an overlooked era, Before March Madness looks at how promises, power, and money laid the groundwork for an American sports institution.