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ACC Basketball

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

J. Samuel Walker

Publication Year: 2011

Walker focuses on the evolution of basketball programs in the ACC in its first 20 years. The continuing theme of the work is how schools tried to maintain a proper balance between academic and athletic achievements. Walker explores how conference administrators, university presidents, chancellors, faculty, coaches, and athletic directors influenced and shaped the athletic program while facing issues such as creation of standards for recruiting players and how best to offer athletes a legitimate chance of earning a degree. The book covers the ACC from its formation in 1953 to the 1972, when the U. of South Carolina left the conference in a dispute over minimum SAT scores for incoming athletes. Walker uses ACC basketball as a way to look inside our culture, situating it in postwar South during a time of racial stress, economic growth, and social change. He shows how basketball and the ACC were deeply influenced by civil rights and the struggle for racial justice. Throughout, he also chronicles on-the-court action, telling stories that recreate for the reader the brilliance and foibles of the coaches, the artistry of the players, the unforgettable games, the tense rivalries, the intense, sometimes wacky, fans, and traditions both new and old that have defined ACC basketball over the years.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. xi-xiii

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...

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pp. 1-9

On December 2, 1953, the University of Maryland Terrapins met the University of South Carolina Gamecocks in the first basketball game ever played in the recently formed Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Maryland, a legitimate contender for the league title, was favored to win and the matchup...

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1. The Crisis in College Sports, 1951

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pp. 10-29

John E. Hocutt, the dean of men at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, customarily met individually with all male students near the end of their sophomore year to review their records and evaluate their progress toward graduation. William and Mary was a state-supported institution...

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2. The Founding of the ACC

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pp. 30-62

The disclosures of point shaving in college basketball and the violations of academic standards by football coaches at the College of William and Mary were sources of immense concern to presidents of the members of the Southern Conference. Soon after the William and Mary scandal became public...

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3. The Man Who Made ACC Basketball

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pp. 63-99

The approach of the Dixie Classic of 1958, the tenth anniversary of an event that had become a cherished institution among basketball fans in North Carolina, generated even more excitement and anticipation than usual. The tournament, a three- day affair held between Christmas and New Year’s Day, pitted...

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4. A Championship Won, A Classic Lost

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pp. 100-134

On March 1, 1957, after defeating Duke in Durham, Frank McGuire’s North Carolina Tar Heels finished their regular season schedule unbeaten and ranked number one in the country. But their record did not assure them of a chance to play for the NCAA championship because they still had to win the...

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5. The Big Four

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pp. 135-180

Shortly after the NCAA placed the University of North Carolina on probation but before the point-shaving scandal broke, the Tar Heels met the Duke Blue Devils in Durham in an important ACC matchup. Duke, ranked fourth in the nation, came into the game with a record of 7–0 in the conference and...

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6. The Revolt of the Also-Rans

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pp. 181-223

On January 7, 1967, The State, the leading newspaper in South Carolina, ran a headline that would have been inconceivable in the first few years of ACC basketball: “Gamecocks, Tigers Meet in Vital ACC War.” From the founding of the conference in 1953 through 1965, the University of South Carolina and...

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7. The Integration of ACC Basketball

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pp. 224-254

On December 1, 1965, twelve years after the first ACC basketball game, another milestone event took place. Billy Jones, a 6′1″ guard from Towson, Maryland, became the league’s first black varsity basketball player by appearing briefly for the University of Maryland in a road game against Penn State...

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8. “College Basketball’s Strongest League”

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pp. 255-308

As the 1969–70 basketball season approached, the University of Virginia Cavaliers appeared in danger of descending from disarray into full-fledged chaos. The previous spring, coach Bill Gibson had survived a disappointing record and the “Boot the Hoot” campaign, but only with a tepid endorsement from...

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9. The 800 Rule & the Departure of South Carolina

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pp. 309-329

The Atlantic Coast Conference was founded in 1953 in significant part to establish academic integrity and enforce academic standards among its members. One eventual result of those goals was that the ACC decided in 1964 that football and basketball prospects had to score at least 800 on the SAT to qualify...


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pp. 331-377

Essay on Sources

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pp. 379-380


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pp. 381-395

E-ISBN-13: 9781469602578
E-ISBN-10: 1469602571
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807835036
Print-ISBN-10: 080783503X

Page Count: 416
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2011