Bohl novel takes on college basketball

Book doesn't try to settle old scores, he says

Al Bohl’s first novel is coming. It features big-time college basketball, scenes set at Kansas University and a coach of “questionable reputation.”

But Bohl — the former KU athletic director fired by the university in 2003 — said “Back Porch Swing” isn’t a thinly veiled attempt to settle old scores.

“I’ve really passed all that stuff by and moved forward,” Bohl said by phone Monday from Florida, where he moved after leaving KU. “‘Back Porch Swing’ is a wonderful book that will make people feel good.”

Bohl’s exit from KU was anything but a feel-good story. He was forced out amid reports he had alienated men’s basketball coach Roy Williams, and held a driveway news conference where he complained that Williams had crushed him “like a dove.” Williams left KU days later, taking the coaching job at North Carolina.

After settling in at St. Augustine, Fla., Bohl began his novel, which tells the story of Lance, a Kentucky high school basketball star going through the college recruiting process.

“But playing basketball isn’t the only thing on Lance’s mind,” according to a promotional blurb on the Web site for Advantage Media Group, the vanity publisher distributing Bohl’s novel. “There’s the girl he meets on a recruiting trip to Kansas … the basketball buddy who may have stepped over the line with recruiting rules, the coach who has questionable reputation and the pressure from family to sign with his parent’s alma mater.”

The book hasn’t been released, and Bohl said he was reluctant to describe the novel in detail.

“It turns out Kansas will be part of the book,” he said. “Without giving too much away, it’s an important part of the book.”

He added, however, that he and his wife, Sherry, “loved” their time in Kansas.

“I really believe the people of Kansas will like a lot of what they read in there,” Bohl said.

Bohl continued to draw a salary from KU through June 2004. Since leaving Kansas, he also has taught as a visiting instructor in the sport management department at Flagler College.

“I never thought when I left Kansas that I’d end up writing, much less writing a novel,” he said.

He has two more books in the pipeline, he said. One is about a father trying to pass his values to his children; the other is a sequel to “Back Porch Swing.”

Bohl said he had resisted calls to write a nonfiction book about his days as an athletic director, which also included stints at Toledo and Fresno State.

“A number of people truly did say because of all the coaches I’ve been involved with, I should write that book,” he said.

Bohl wants to use his writing to inspire others.

“I’ll hope that once they’ve read an Al Bohl book,” he said, “they’ll want to go give somebody a hug.”

The novel already is available for sale at, with first copies set to ship Dec. 19. Bohl said it would be made available to bookstores in February.