Syracuse announces Boeheim’s exit strategy
Jim Boeheim became the face of Syracuse University over the past five decades, first as player, then as coach — revered for wins and delivering a national title to a struggling city in 2003. But the coda to his decorated career has become tinged with undeniable blemishes, laid out in harsh penalties for violations the NCAA says show Boeheim and the university lost control of athletics.
Boeheim and Syracuse officials acknowledged the unwanted ties Wednesday in announcing he will retire after three more seasons, while insisting they don’t agree with parts of the scathing NCAA report and will appeal to try to save scholarships and wins.
Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud said Boeheim decided to make the announcement to “bring certainty to the team and program in the coming years” and to allow for a smooth transition.
“Coach Jim Boeheim has been a mainstay at Syracuse University for more than one-third of our entire 144-year history,” Syverud said in a statement. “He enrolled as a student here in 1962 and has never left. He has been the embodiment of Orange pride.”
When Boeheim turned 70 in November, wife Juli asked him if he was OK with coaching as a septuagenarian and all that goes along with it.
“I just think one day you’re going to have to slow down,” Juli said. “He doesn’t want to, number one, and he feels better than he ever has.”
There’s been a change of heart.
The violations, lasting more than a decade under Boeheim’s watch, involved academic misconduct, extra benefits and the university’s drug-testing policy, according to a March 6 report by the NCAA Committee on Infractions. Boeheim is already suspended for the first half of the next Atlantic Coast Conference season, a total of nine games. Syracuse will also have three scholarships taken away for four seasons and all wins vacated in which an ineligible player participated during five seasons between 2004 and 2012. The total wins removed from records could be as high as 108, depending on what happens in the appeal process. Syracuse has already vacated 24 wins.
Athletic director Daryl Gross is also stepping aside, immediately taking another marketing position with the school. Pete Sala will serve as interim athletic director.
Boeheim, who scheduled a news conference for today, has had problems before. The NCAA banned the Orange from the 1993 NCAA Tournament for recruiting violations.
Longtime assistant coach Mike Hopkins, a former star for the Orange, is in line to succeed Boeheim.
In its report, the NCAA placed Syracuse on probation for five years for breaking with the “most fundamental core values of the NCAA.” Athletic department officials interfered with academics, making sure star players stayed eligible, the report said.
The report said the former director of basketball operations, who was picked by Boeheim and whose job primarily consisted of monitoring academic performance of basketball student-athletes, became overly involved. He collected and maintained student-athletes’ usernames and passwords and provided them to others, including student-athlete support services.