Personal Fouls Hardcover – Nov 1991
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From Library Journal
Cancelled by Simon & Schuster earlier this year, Golenbock's book is due out from its new publisher in supposedly unaltered form, despite warnings from North Carolina State that the charges it makes are false and insufficiently substantiated. Among other allegations, Golenbock states that players' grades were fixed by Coach Valvano, positive drug tests were kept secret, and players received money, cars, etc., from a special fund. Golenbock is co-author of The Bronx Zoo (LJ 4/15/79) and other books. Watch for the fallout . -- MR
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
The lies and misrepresentations in other reviews on this board are evidence of the lengths these people will go to discredit a book that put them in a state of blind terror simply by telling the truth. Readers who want to know the whole story should get the Signet paperback edition, which has a 50 page afterword detailing how the Wolfpack Club and NCSU came down on Simon & Schuster, the publishers who originally contracted to do the book, with threats of multi-million dollar lawsuits (to be undertaken at NC taxpayer expense), and threats from the NC State Attorney General's office.
None of it worked. When Carol & Graf published the hardback, the threats and bluster melted away like a snowball under an August sun -- Div I sports boosters are bullies, and bullies are almost always cowards -- Valvano was investigated and fired, Chancellor Poulton resigned, and new revelations (about point shaving, for instance), which were NOT covered in Golenbock's book, surfaced almost weekly. What came to light was one of the filthiest programs in the history Div I sports,and the dishonesty and cynicism of a sociopath who used his "charm" to inveigle subliterate basketball players into providing him with a multi-million dollar lifestyle.
Read Personal Fouls. If you do it with an open mind, you'll never watch the "March Madness" TV spectacle with the same naivete again.
To the NCSU supporters and Valvano apologists who try to shout you down, here's a simple answer. Valvano's biggest potential star was a player named Chris Washburn.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"Personal Fouls" tells of point-shaving and illegal recruitment at the NC State basketball program, but it is instructive to note that the original publisher of the manuscript, Pocket Books, rejected it for failing to meet company standards (and later published Valvano's account). "Personal Fouls" is filled with misspellings and factual errors. The book prompted multiple investigations of the NC State basketball program, including those by NC State, the UNC system and the NCAA, and nary a trace of the point-shaving, illegal recruitment, or any of the other big-time scandals alleged in the book. The bulk of the program's NCAA violations were that athletes sold complimentary tickets and shoes without the coaches' knowledge and that there was "a lack of institutional control" of the program. In fact, Jim Valvano, whose fame was arrogated to help sell this book, was not implicated by the NCAA in any of the violations, nor were any of the other coaches.
Furthermore, upon the conclusion of the NCAA investigation, the NCAA's chief investigator, David Didion, sent Jim Valvano a letter (dated October 26, 1989) in which he told Valvano that "If I had a son, I would feel comfortable with you as his coach and encourage him to learn from you" and that Valvano was "good for intercollegiate athletics, good for N.C. State and good for the NCAA."
Of course, the NCAA investigators actually talked to Jim Valvano, unlike Golenbock, who avoided Valvano in favor of running with anonymous interviews with people nursing grudges against him. Golenbock also avoided NC State Chancellor Bruce Poulton.
What Golenbock wrote may have shaken the world of college athletics, and certainly there was much that needed to be changed, but he did so by alleging high crimes and outrageous deeds at the personal expense of a man who did neither. Imagine, if you can, a world in which Chicken Little was taken seriously, and you'll have an understanding of what Peter Golenbock did. The sky was not falling, but the façades were erected to protect against it anyway. NC State basketball was not rife with corruption as Golenbock alleged, but it was gutted anyway. Arguably college athletics are better off now for the changes wrought after and in some part owing to the publication of "Personal Fouls." But the cost of those changes were borne unfairly by Valvano, NC State University, and on a higher plane, the truth.
Let's be careful here before saying that the changes made are so good they justify the scapegoating of Valvano and NC State. Because if we are suddenly to suggest that the end justifies the means, then we are to adopt the same standard Golenbock invents for NC State basketball under Valvano and then decries.
From lack of fact checking (not to mention Spell-checking), to the use of single-source unconfirmed accusations, to the use of "un-nammed" sources, to just plain making up facts in order to string together a weak thesis, this book has all of the classic elements of Yellow Journalism.
The original publisher of this book refused to print it for the reasons listed above. How this work of fiction ever got published speaks volumes about the ethics of some publishing houses.
In the final analysis, the NCAA, the University of North Carolina board of governors, the Atlantic Coast Conference, North Carolina State University and the North Carolina State Beaureu of Investigation spent a collective 2 years investigating these matters. None of these groups could find any of the wrongdoing alleged in this book.
My rating of this book: Zero Stars - Not worth the paper it's printed on.
Hopefully all potential readers of this book are listening: IT'S TIME TO LET THIS BOOK DIE.
When the dust cover for the book was released and all the media went crazy over it, NC State ASKED the NCAA to come take a look. That's right, the NCAA didn't come knocking...NC State REQUESTED they investigate.
And after the investigation was over, what did they find? Players sold their complimentary game tickets and basketball shoes for extra cash. In other words, nothing. It's right there on the NCAA Major Infraction database if you don't believe me. Look it up.
This book was just simply trash, so much so that the NC Attorney General, no friend of NC State, threatened to sue and it wasn't released until a smaller label took the risk.
Sad thing is, the UNC system BOG decided to castrate NC State's athletics programs, unjustly. The Wolfpack's basketball program, once a top 10 power historically, has been largely irrelevant the last 20 years. When Valvano was cast aside, NC State and North Carolina stood head and shoulders above any other ACC school, including Duke. How things can change in 20 years.
Only now is the program recovering, and only now has UNC been exposed as the REAL cheaters, since their punishment from the NCAA for cheating in football and academics was released just yesterday. One wonders if they will go into 20 years of purgatory.