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College Sports

A History

Eric A. Moyen and John R. Thelin

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A bold and foundational history of the inception and evolution of intercollegiate athletics in the United States.

In College Sports, historians Eric A. Moyen and John R. Thelin tell the intriguing story of the success—and excess—of American college sports from their inception to today. Arguing that the modern American university's structure spurred the growth of big-time sports, Moyen and Thelin also highlight the treatment of marginalized groups in athletics and the role that commercialization and the media have played in shaping college sports.

Using a wealth of secondary resources, archival...

A bold and foundational history of the inception and evolution of intercollegiate athletics in the United States.

In College Sports, historians Eric A. Moyen and John R. Thelin tell the intriguing story of the success—and excess—of American college sports from their inception to today. Arguing that the modern American university's structure spurred the growth of big-time sports, Moyen and Thelin also highlight the treatment of marginalized groups in athletics and the role that commercialization and the media have played in shaping college sports.

Using a wealth of secondary resources, archival records, newspaper articles, and oral histories, Moyen and Thelin offer a chronological account of the popularity, success, and continued challenges of college sports. Most scholarship has portrayed athletics as an anomaly within higher education, but history reveals that college sports enjoy a symbiotic relationship with universities. Reform and a return to a purely amateur model have rarely been a compelling option for those institutions that are successful in commercialized big-time college sports. At the same time, the majority of student-athletes compete in a very different model. And despite their progressive posturing, colleges have been slow to fully adopt civil rights and social justice issues. When full participation was finally extended to women and minorities, it generally meant a move away from the amateur model into a commercial enterprise.

By examining key events at specific universities, athletic conferences, and the NCAA, Moyen and Thelin trace how the media and sports marketing have created an incredibly successful financial model for schools in big-time conferences. Yet this model has also created a precarious fiscal situation for hundreds of other institutions. This provocative and refreshing take on sports in American universities provides the context in which to understand—and improve upon—the current landscape of intercollegiate athletics.

Reviews

Reviews

A book that makes college sports come alive off the pages. College Sports is deeply researched, funny, and demonstrates how sports are closely woven into the culture of colleges and universities. The authors—approaching the book as historians, professors, former students, and fans—engaged me, someone who rarely notices sports but surely loves a good story and a well-researched history.

The best analytic account of American intercollegiate athletics since the first contest in 1852. Moyen and Thelin show the close historical relationship between the modern institutions of higher education and their athletic programs.

Moyen and Thelin detail the historical evidence of political deafness and absence of leadership among college presidents and NCAA leadership. Keeping positions and paychecks have come at the cost of sacrificing the health and education of the predominantly Black football and basketball players they continue to exploit. Is anyone willing to fix or even call out this crisis of integrity?

You cannot understand the history of American higher education without understanding college sports. In the U.S., college athletics affects practically every aspect of higher education. Moyen and Thelin's College Sports deepens our understanding of this uniquely American enterprise and its 150 years of history that got to where we are today.

Moyen and Thelin deliver a powerful, penetrating account of how and why college athletics have become deeply embedded within academic institutions. Their book serves as a poignant reminder of the significance of understanding the historical ties between athletics and higher education. Whether you're a sport scholar or not, read this book.

About

Book Details

Release Date
Publication Date
Status
Preorder
Trim Size
6.125
x
9.25
Pages
496
ISBN
9781421450094
Illustration Description
16 b&w photos
Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Higher Education and Athletics
1. The Creation of Sports in American Higher Education, 1852 to 1900
2. Building Local, Regional, and National Programs, 1900 to 1929
3

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Higher Education and Athletics
1. The Creation of Sports in American Higher Education, 1852 to 1900
2. Building Local, Regional, and National Programs, 1900 to 1929
3. Big-Time Football and Backlash, 1929 to 1941
4. The Consolidation of Control in College Sports, 1941 to 1954
5. Civil Rights, Racial Desegregation, and Regulations, 1954 to 1973
6. Women's College Sports during the Cold War Era, 1945 to 1984
7. The Ascendance of College Sports Business, 1970 to 2000
8. Keeping Up with the Joneses, 2000 to 2012
9. Commercialism, Conflicts, Conferences, and COVID-19, 2012 to 2024
Conclusion: Why History Matters for College Sports
Notes
Essay on Sources
Index

Author Bios
Featured Contributor

Eric A. Moyen

Eric A. Moyen is a professor of higher education leadership and the Assistant Vice President for Student Success at Mississippi State University. He is the author of Frank L. McVey and the University of Kentucky and the coauthor of Changing the Game: My Career in Collegiate Sports Marketing.
John R. Thelin
Featured Contributor

John R. Thelin

John R. Thelin is the University Research Professor Emeritus of the history of higher education and public policy at the University of Kentucky. His numerous books include A History of American Higher Education and Games Colleges Play.