Time For Boeheim to Step Down at Syracuse

As a long-time Syracuse basketball fan, it pains me to say Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim should step down and relinquish his coaching duties to his former player and top assistant, Mike Hopkins. It has been known for the last 3-4 years that Hopkins will be the next head coach of the Orange once the 70 year-old Boeheim decides to retire. The only question has been, “When will that happen?” Well, there is no time better than now after the penalties imposed on Syracuse on Friday afternoon.

What follows is a statement from the NCAA regarding the Syracuse basketball program and Coach Boeheim.

“During the 10-year period of violations, the head basketball coach did not promote an atmosphere of compliance within his program and did not monitor the activities of those who reported to him as they related to academics and booster involvement. Although the head basketball coach cited NCAA rules meetings with compliance staff and other initiatives, he operated under assumptions and did not follow up with his staff and students to ensure compliance.”

For over ten years, there were many things that fall under the umbrella of cheating. As the head basketball coach, it is Boeheim’s job to oversee all facets related to the program from academics, drug testing, recruiting, financial improprieties by players, etc. I know many of these players come to Syracuse hoping to make it to the NBA, but all players must be accountable for their grades while a student at the university.boeheim

“From 2001 to 2009, the university followed the unwritten rule for drug testing because the written rule was confusing,” according to Syracuse Athletic Director Daryl Gross. Well this confusion led to players who tested positive for drugs multiple times were still allowed to practice and play in games which is not how the drug testing policy works.

The academic violations are a hot mess. Course work was completed for a player by the director of men’s basketball operations and a receptionist to make him eligible again. Revisions to papers or whole assignments were completed by the same receptionist and a tutor. I am sure they both knew what they were doing was wrong and a violation of NCAA rules, but the receptionist and tutor chose to do it anyway.

Illegal benefits were provided to two basketball players. While a booster did not buy a house or a tractor for recruits as in the fictitious movie Blue Chips featuring Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway, some players were encouraged to develop a relationship with a booster who paid the players over $8000 in cash for volunteering at a local YMCA. In addition, some basketball staff members were also given money by boosters for appearing at the same YMCA.

As a result of the aforementioned violations, the NCAA took away three scholarships a year for the next four years, suspended Coach Boeheim for nine ACC games next season, and vacated 108 wins during the years Syracuse violated NCAA rules dropping the Hall of Fame Boeheim from second to sixth on the all-time list of wins for Division 1 basketball coaches. They were also placed on probation for five years.boeheim1

Syracuse is very fortunate the NCAA did accept the university’s self-imposed one-year ban from the ACC and NCAA tournament this season.

At first glance, it appears Syracuse was hit hard, but they will survive the NCAA sanctions. The vacated wins and suspending Boeheim for nine ACC games only hurts Boeheim. The loss of scholarships is not as bad as it appears because the loss of scholarships will come from the end of the bench which Boeheim has never really used much outside an eight-player rotation.

The fact that Syracuse can play in the NCAA tournament while serving these penalties and on probation should make them feel like they were given a slap on the wrist yet Boeheim doesn’t feel that way. Boeheim has appealed the suspension and even through others under in bus in the following statement.

“Initially, I would like to express relief that the NCAA’s unparalleled 8-year investigation of the University and the Men’s Basketball Program is finally over. As I expressed at the Committee on Infractions Hearing, I acknowledge that violations occurred within the Men’s Basketball Program, and as the Head Coach of the Program, I take those violations very seriously. That being said, I am disappointed with many of the findings and conclusions as stated in the Infractions Report. The Committee chose to ignore the efforts which I have undertaken over the past 37 years to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the Men’s Basketball Program. Instead they chose to focus on the rogue and secretive actions of a former employee of the local YMCA and my former Director of Basketball Operations in order to impose an unprecedented series of penalties upon the University and the Men’s Basketball Program.”

This is where Boeheim is wrong. As a college coach of young men, it is his job to be a role model and show his players the right way to do things while taking responsibility for their actions. In addition to coaching, he must oversee all facets of his basketball program and not delegate others to do so. Boeheim is the one in charge and ultimately responsible for infractions with his program. I also highly doubt Boeheim knew nothing about the sexual abuse allegation against long-time top assistant Bernie Fine who is no longer with the team.

If he just wants to coach, maybe he can finally give the NBA a try. The NBA has tried to gage his interest over the years, but Boeheim has been happy at Syracuse where he played his college ball before beginning his coaching career as an assistant under Roy Danforth then becoming head coach 37 years ago.

Rather than face the media after Syracuse’s loss in their final game of the season yesterday at NC State, Boeheim sent Coach Hopkins with the message he will discuss the sanctions at a later time. If Boeheim can’t face the heat, then he needs to get out of the fire and resign his position as Head Men’s Basketball Coach for the Syracuse Orange.

And that’s…a I see it!

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