Where the Water Kept Rising

A college athletic director's fight to save a New Orleans sports institution

Non-Fiction - Inspirational
214 Pages
Reviewed on 04/23/2013
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Author Biography

Jim Miller has spent four decades in the sports world as a journalist and executive. After 11 years as a newspaper reporter in his native Kentucky and in Baltimore, Miller joined the National Football League Management Council in 1981. A 21-year NFL career followed which included positions with the New Orleans Saints, Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears. During his NFL career, Miller was chief administrative officer and contracts negotiator for his various clubs and was acknowledged as an authority on the NFL’s Salary Cap. Miller became athletics director at the University of New Orleans in 2003, guiding the program through Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, an ordeal chronicled in his recently released book, “Where the Water Kept Rising.”
Miller operates his own website, www.JWMillerSports.com while continuing to write both fiction and non-fiction books. He is a frequent television and radio commentator on subjects pertaining to the business of professional sports and college athletics. Jim and wife Jean live in New Orleans with their two children.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite

James Miller was an executive with the National Football League when he was offered and accepted the position of director of intercollegiate athletics at the University of New Orleans hoping for a quieter life. During his six years at the institute he faced many obstacles that would have defeated many. However, Miller would not allow those challenges to defeat him; not even a hurricane could stop him. When the former Kentucky native took the position with UNO he never expected he would be risking his life in the midst of a hurricane. Hurricane Katrina was not the only problem Miller faced in his new position, just the worst one. The athletic budget was very small and tight at the University, however, Miller was frugal and usually managed to stretch the funds. During his first year with the University of New Orleans, just a few hours before a championship game the Superdome sprung a leak. After the destruction of Hurricane Katrina he rebuilt the athletic program at the school.

"Where the Water Kept Rising: A College Athletic Director's Fight to Save a New Orleans Institution" will appeal to fans of college sports and human interest stories. "Where the Water Kept Rising" is an entertaining read. I was especially interested in the author's experiences during the hurricane. His descriptions were so realistic I could almost hear the roar of the wind and the pounding of the rain. This book is well written and organized. The author has included several human interest stories that will particularly please sports fans. I highly recommend this book.

Maria Beltran

"Where the Water Kept Rising" unravels at the height of hurricane Katrina in New Orleans where Jim and Jean Miller and their extended family try to escape from the wrath of nature. They are eventually displaced and are in the process of rebuilding their disrupted lives but Jim is also caught up in another struggle. He has just left his job as an executive at the National Football League and has accepted the offer to become an athletic director at the University of New Orleans. Plagued with bureaucracy and lack of funds, the job proves to be a big challenge. However, Jim is determined to give the young student athletes the distinction that they are hoping for.

In his book "Where the Water Kept Rising" James W. Miller tells his heroic and sad story as an athletic director, who wants to make a difference in the lives of his athletes. This is at a time when his personal life is also in turmoil. From someone who has been in the world of sports for more than twenty years, the description of the events is powerful. This book reveals many of the seemingly small but important details that we, as sports spectators, will never learn about. James W. Miller's memoir also tells the story of their struggle in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. The juxtaposition of these overpowering challenges with the personal stories of individual athletes makes the story very compelling. In a voice that is neither bitter nor sarcastic and with a bit of remorse, this story will not fail to tug at the reader's heart.

Kathryn Bennett

"Where the Water Kept Rising" by James W Miller takes us into the real life story of the survival of a New Orleans athletic team at the college level. Jim Miller had been in sports 20 years as an executive with the National Football League and three member clubs when the offer to become the athletic director of the mid-major college program was what he wanted to slow down the pace. It would end up not being the slower pace he thought it would, but instead a challenging and rewarding time of life. The first 32 months of his being the director was gratifying for him and he helped those athletes who competed. The program was on a shoe string budget that he had to work with but Miller managed to make it work and keep the program going well. However, on August 29th, 2005, Hurricane Katrina smashed into the region and tossed those fragile and modest budgets at schools (among all the other damage it did) into a terrible disarray. Jim tells the story of how he worked to claw the program back to life. He had hoped for a quick recovery but like everything else in Katrina recovery there was a lot of red tape and having to work around it to get things to work. Along with the issues that were going on with the program Jim Millers family had personal trials and things to cope with as well.

This is a very personal and endearing look into something that did get national attention at the time but you would want more details. The fight that Jim Miller and everyone involved with the New Orleans programs put into saving things really comes across in this story. The writing is really good and it draws you in and makes you want to keep reading. I was enthralled with the details and was inspired to find out everything that went on from a personal perspective. Sports fans will love this book.