"Where the Water Kept Rising"
A College Athletic Director's Fight to Save a New Orleans Institution

© 2012 JW Miller All Rights Reserved.
    After 20 years as an executive with the National Football League and three of its member clubs, Jim Miller had reached the pinnacle of professional sports. Yet an offer to become athletic director of a “mid-majorâ€? college program in New Orleans was a welcomed opportunity to slow the pace and possibly make a difference in the lives of young student-athletes. Little did he know that instead of ratcheting down a satisfying career, he was about to enter the most frustrating, exhausting and challenging time of his life.
    Miller was named athletic director at the University of New Orleans on his 55th birthday, January 24, 2003. The first 32 months on the job were gratifying as he watched the hopeful faces of young athletes competing, often with more determination than distinction. The program, which did not include the golden goose of football, struggled financially but always seemed to balance its modest budget. Then on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina swept over the region, sparing none but casting its more fragile institutions into perilous crisis.
    "Where the Water Kept Rising" is the story of Jim Miller's fight to save a traumatically injured program and the collateral damage suffered by its coaches and student-athletes. Initially, hopes of a quick recovery were dashed by the roiling waters of inattention and bureaucratic delays and finally by decisions ostensibly made to preserve only the academic mission. 
    Woven throughout is the story of a young basketball player who survived the terror of the storm only to become engulfed in its aftermath.
While Miller was navigating the obstacles to save his program, he and his family were enduring the tribulations that come in the wake of a tragedy. They were first evacuees, then refugees and finally just another family of displaced New Orleanians whose faith and resolve were tested daily as they rebuilt their lives. At times, it was not easy to determine which crisis was more taxing, the professional or the personal. 
    The University of New Orleans' struggle has been given national attention by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Sports Illustrated and other publications. But not until now has the inside story been told. Jim Miller's fight to save a struggling athletic program is a story of leadership, conflict and courage that should be required reading for every sports management professional and educator.

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