Champions Way (Hardcover)
Football, Florida, and the Lost Soul of College Sports
W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393292619, 272pp.
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
With little public debate or introspection, our institutions of higher learning have become hostages to the rapacious, smash-mouth entertainment conglomerate known, quaintly, as intercollegiate athletics. In Champions Way, New York Times investigative reporter Mike McIntire chronicles the rise of this growing scandal through the experience of the Florida State Seminoles, one of the most successful teams in NCAA history.
A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his Times investigation of college sports, McIntire breaks new ground here, uncovering the workings of a system that enables athletes to violate academic standards and avoid criminal prosecution for actions ranging from shoplifting to drunk driving. At the heart of Champions Way is the untold story of a whistle-blower, Christie Suggs, and her wrenching struggle to hold a corrupt system to account. Together with shocking new details about prominent sports figures, including NFL quarterback Jameis Winston and former FSU coach Bobby Bowden, Champions Way shines a light on the ethical, moral, and legal compromises inherent in the making of a championship sports program.
Beyond the story of Florida State, McIntire takes readers on a journey through the history of college football, from its origins as a roughneck pastime coached by nineteenth-century professors to its current incarnation as a gold-plated behemoth that long ago outgrew its scholastic environs. Illuminated in rich and disturbing detail is the hidden financial ecosystem that nourishes hundred-million-dollar teams, from the hustlers who recruit players for schools and the athletic departments controlled by rich boosters to the universities whose academic mission and moral authority have been undermined. More than pointing out flaws, McIntire examines their causes and offers hope to those who would reform college sports.