Champions Way

Football, Florida, and the Lost Soul of College Sports

Mike McIntire (Author, New York Times)


A searing exposé of how the multibillion dollar college sports empire fails universities, students, and athletes.

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.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • September 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-393-29261-9
  • 6.5 × 9.6 in / 272 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“McIntire paints a grim picture of a culture of malfeasance, particularly in its treatment of women, at the heart of college athletics.” — New York Times Book Review

“Eye-opening and important....any honest reader will come away appalled—and rightfully so.” — Kirkus (starred review)

“A deeply unsettling exposé.” — Booklist (starred review)

“[McIntire] effectively weaves together emails, police reports, court transcripts, and interviews with whistle-blowers and victims....[He] summarizes the history of college sports and the social and economic culture of football in American universities…convincingly arguing that these transgressions are widespread.” — Publishers Weekly

“Notable and heartrending.” — Library Journal

“Relentlessly reported, Champions Way is a rich, powerful, and at times chilling page-turner. More than giving us an exposé, McIntire serves up a first-rate narrative that will forever change the way readers look at one of the top college football programs in America.” — Jeff Benedict, best-selling author of The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big Time College Football

“In a damning, taut narrative, Champions Way shows how easy it is for college athletes to game the legal system for their own benefit. In merciless prose, Mike McIntire exposes how nuisances like sexual assaults and fake classes are no match for the big dollars associated with a winning football program.” — William D. Cohan, author of The Price of Silence

“Investigative reporter Mike McIntire has written a smart and fearless exposé of the madness and corruption undermining college football. From widespread academic fraud to the sexual predators to the hypocrisy of college presidents, it's all here in shocking detail and highly readable prose. A timely and important book.” — Gilbert M. Gaul, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Billion-Dollar Ball

“College athletic programs are prisms revealing the priorities of our schools, and our society. In Champions Way, Mike McIntire focuses his first-rate reporting skills on Florida State’s football team—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and tells us what he found in a fast-paced detective story. Whether you’re interested in college athletics, higher education, or just a damn good story, you’ll love Champions Way.” — John U. Bacon, New York Times best-selling author of Three and Out, Fourth and Long, and Endzone

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