Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime, and Complicity
Written with Nick Perry
Scoreboard, Baby traces a college football team's rise and a community's fall. Chronicling the University of Washington's last Rose Bowl run, the book shows how a community’s blind embrace of a football team compromised judges, prosecutors, police agencies, a proud university and the media. By exposing the rot beneath a celebrated season – and the ruins left behind – Scoreboard, Baby is a timeless morality tale about the price of obsession, the creep of fanaticism, and the ways in which a community can lose even when its team wins. In 2011, the book won the Edgar Award, in the category of Best Fact Crime.
Praise for the book:
"What the investigative reporter Ken Armstrong and the higher-education correspondent Nick Perry have done, first in an award-winning Seattle Times series and now in 'Scoreboard, Baby,' is lay out – in hard-boiled style and with the verve only real storytelling can supply – exactly whose lives were mangled in the course of the University of Washington's historic 2000 season. Their idiosyncratic characters and plots ultimately indict a vast, impersonal system that has produced dozens of such teams. The Huskies didn't break new ground here, but in so comprehensively detailing them, the authors did."
--Marc Tracy, The New York Times Sunday Book Review
"Scoreboard, Baby is a terrific work of investigative reporting and a vital public service. I finished it at once infuriated and enlightened. Armstrong and Perry have found the unfortunate universal truths of bigtime college football in the particular story of the Washington Huskies."
--David Maraniss, author of When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi
"Riveting ... this story carries importance and relevance to fans far beyond Seattle. Investigative journalism at its most revealing."
--Alan Moores, Booklist
"This is a world-class job of reporting and a cautionary tale about our sports culture. Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry have made a page-turning story of what happens off the field while we are celebrating in the stands."
--Richard Ben Cramer, author of Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life
"Two Seattle Times reporters meticulously recount the legal and moral misadventures of the University of Washington’s 2000 Rose Bowl-winning football team. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, some of America’s top universities still perpetuate the myth of the 'student-athlete.' Armstrong and Perry sound the death knell of that hoary fable ... Chilling ... Will make plenty of fans uncomfortable on fall Saturdays."
"The great fraud of 'student-athletes,' higher education and big-time football has never been detailed better than in Scoreboard, Baby. Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry may be writing about the University of Washington, but theirs is a vivid, cautionary tale that, sadly, plays out in so many college athletic departments."
--Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated senior contributing writer and author of Everybody’s All-American
"A page-turning tale that reads like a novel, but is tragically true."
--Penny Hastings, ForeWord Reviews
"The most harrowing book I have ever read about college sports."
--Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights
"You might remember the brilliant, scary reporting about the 2000 Washington Huskies by the Seattle Times' Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry in 2008. Now, all the stuff that couldn't make a family newspaper has been released in a book ... Buy a copy of Scoreboard, Baby ... You won't regret it."
"A remarkable book ... A story that's uplifting because of the superb investigative reporting it contains, depressing because of the unpunished criminality ... As an investigative reporter of 40 years experience, little shocks me. What I learned from this book shocked me ..."
--Steve Weinberg, The Seattle Times
"A sad tale of crime with few consequences ... The book is upsetting, shocking ... The research by Armstrong and Perry, who both work at the Seattle Times, was terrific. If you care about college athletics, read this book, and don't let this happen at your school."
--Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News
"Riveting ... sharp and sure-footed ... unflinching ... Scoreboard, Baby is the definition of a page-turner, cleverly constructed to keep the reader engaged with half-a-dozen genuinely compelling plotlines at a time, building slowly with tension as the book comes to foam."
--Mike Seely, Seattle Weekly
"Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry demonstrate dramatically and in convincing detail the ways in which the coaching staff, the athletic department, the University administration, and various judges, prosecutors, and police officials in Seattle enabled those young men to continue playing football despite the rap sheets they were developing and the lives they were ruining and endangering. Winning football games was more important than the administration of justice, and for many of the players, such concerns as academic integrity never came into the equation at all."
--Bill Littlefield, NPR's Only A Game
"A disturbing portrait of a program, and a university, that won everything on the field but lost sight of its values along the way ... There's an added layer of tension and tragedy to the narrative that makes Scoreboard, Baby a particularly distressing tale - and one that should be required reading for anyone linked to university life."
--Libby Sander, The Chronicle of Higher Education
"A lively, revisited history ... a season so monumentally engaged in corruption, crime, fanaticism and community duplicity that you would think it had been booked by the mafia. ... There are few details missing of that season; most have been uncovered by the authors' interviews and review of thousands of documents exposing how a college and community mortgaged their souls for the success of a college football team."
--Sid Dorfman, The Newark Star-Ledger
"Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry have written a classic ... It's the dogged reporting of the day-by-day devils in the details that makes Scoreboard, Baby so compelling. You simply can't rationalize away so many facts into simplistic moralistic story-lines."
--Dick Stull, Sport Literature Association
"The book should be a source of embarrassment for the millions here and elsewhere who delude themselves on game days into believing that the spectacle they observe on college football fields is nothing but a noble, pure, harmless diversion. ... My advice would be to read this book without summoning an agenda. Then try to decide with good conscience what our priorities should be ... To read it without being affected by its evidence of the human toll sports take for our amusement is at best delusional."
--Mike Henderson, Crosscut.com
"A fantastic read ... Scoreboard, Baby is not only a closer look into a system that has failed victims who have suffered at the hands of star athletes, but is a call to the court system and society as a whole."
--Krystine Lucido, Press Box
"I could not stop reading this book once I started ... This book will blow your mind. The level of corruption, lying, and cover-up by those involved is astonishing. ... If you prefer to stay naive about college football, avoid reading Scoreboard, Baby."
--Flint Harris, HolyTurf.com
"Terrific ... an exhaustive, wonderfully crafted, and ultimately haunting look at just how much we're willing to overlook in the name of winning."
--Sarah Johnston, Seattlest
"Meticulously researched ... haunting ... powerful storytelling ... For those who lament the passing of investigative journalism, solid reporting, and writing that moves readers by facts rather than pyrotechnics, this book is a rarity. The authors are skilled at their craft, offering nuanced portrayals that allow the despicable actions of some of the parties to be revealed in unsettling detail while at the same time finding moments of true humanity and nobility. What makes this book so compelling may in fact be the models of integrity that shine through this dark and foreboding tale."
--Dr. Ellen J. Staurowsky, Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics
Scoreboard, Baby has its roots in a four-part series, "Victory and Ruins," that was published in the Seattle Times in January 2008. The reaction to that series was immediate and sweeping; the report ignited a national discussion of how sports can subvert our values and priorities. Web sites and publications devoted to a variety of subjects – higher education, criminology, journalism, women’s rights, college and professional sports – found the series to be a catalyst for impassioned debate and sober reflection. Newspapers, magazines and their Web sites chimed in:
"A blistering collection of stories" (Baltimore Sun); "shocking . . . appalling” (Tacoma News Tribune); "stunning . . . jaw-dropping . . . the talk radio airwaves burn" (Orlando Sentinel); "a must-read investigative piece" (Salt Lake Tribune); "fantastic" (Florida Times-Union); "a reality check" (San Jose Mercury News); "amazing" (San Antonio Express-News); "fascinating . . . the series is long, but you should read every word" (Fresno Bee); "powerful . . . disturbing" (Houston Chronicle); "an astounding report" (espn.com).
"Explosive . . . should be required reading for any college football fan. It is the most thoroughly reported, meticulously written investigative project I’ve read in my nine years covering this sport. And while the particulars of these stories pertain solely to the Huskies, similar events have almost assuredly taken place within nearly every major program in the country."
--Stewart Mandel, SI.com (Sports Illustrated)
"This chilling and disturbing multi-part investigation of the 2000 University of Washington football team should be mandatory reading for every athletic department. The criminal conduct of certain players – behavior often excused or overlooked by the school and public officials – is appalling. It’s a series as much about the institutions that guide college football, as it is about the Washington football program itself."
--Richard Deitsch, SI.com (Sports Illustrated)
"It’s a disgusting portrayal of a renegade program with coaches and administrators who look the other way and a justice system that protects the football players. Every time I see a football movie about the college game, I always scoff at the way programs are portrayed. But after reading this series, I scoff no more."
--Pat Dooley, Gainesville Sun
"Demands the attention of sports journalists, legal observers, college football administrators and fans. . . . The negative light the series casts on the University of Washington, the local media, and especially, the local court system is astounding. . . . Incredibly detailed and damning . . . genius . . . ‘hooray, hooray, hooray’ for the Seattle Times for doing a sports journalism story that really matters."
--McGuire on Media (by Tim McGuire, the Frank Russell Chair for the business of journalism at Arizona State University)
"If you’ve got about 15 minutes to kill and if there’s nothing sharp under your chin that might result in a flesh wound when your jaw drops onto it, read this story about Buccaneers tight end Jerramy Stevens. . . . a sickening account of a system gone haywire, all in the apparent name of making sure that a football team will have its most talented players available to play."
--Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com
"This brilliant series recalling the awful legacy of the 2000 Washington Huskies doesn’t make me think I’m missing much in terms of that sanctity-of-the-game stuff they force on you."
--Ray Gustini, Radar Magazine
"If you haven't had a chance yet to dive into the Seattle Times amazing – and ongoing – investigation into the 2000 Washington Huskies, please do so right now. . . . We’re still absolutely transfixed by the tale of college-era Jerramy Stevens."
--Will Leitch, deadspin.com
"Masterful. . . . It is tremendous journalism – in fact, it is the best piece of sports journalism we have read in a newspaper in 2008. The story, however, is vile. It may make you sick to your stomach."
"Courage can take many forms. There’s physical courage – the willingness of journalists to put themselves in harm’s way to keep the public informed. There’s also moral courage – the commitment to truth that will alienate readers, risk advertising accounts, and jeopardize a newspaper’s standing during already precarious times. Ken Armstrong and Nick Perry of the Seattle Times displayed such courage in their four-part series, ‘Victory and Ruins.’"
--Citation for the 2009 Michael Kelly Award