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.