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Boeheim Fires Back at NCAA, Calls Sanctions “Unduly Harsh”

By Staff


BoeheimSyracuse University’s head basketball coach Jim Boeheim said the NCAA penalties handed to him, and the school’s basketball program, for decade-long violations in the school’s athletic department have been “unduly harsh,” and announced plans to appeal the findings at a press conference.

In addition, Boeheim said he plans to retire within the next three years, and that he had no personal involvement in the improprieties the NCAA found at SU.

“Although this report does not find that I had personal involvement in any violations of NCAA rules, the committee on infractions has asserted that for the past 10 years, I did not promote an atmosphere of compliance within the men’s basketball program, and I did not monitor the activities regarding compliance of those within the program,” Boeheim read from a statement. “This could not be further from the truth. … The committee on infractions suggested in this report that there was a 10-year period where I failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance, and during which student-athletes in the men’s basketball program ‘freely committed academic fraud.’ … This is far from a program where student-athletes freely committed fraud. Given the circumstance, I believe the penalty imposed on the university as a whole, and me individually, are unduly harsh.”

Additionally, Boeheim, who’s been head coach at the school since 1976, said he plans to take his decision to retire season by season.

“If I’m not effective at the end of next year, I won’t coach after next year,” he stated. “The three-year thing is the outside.”

The NCAA penalties imposed on Boeheim and SU’s program included a vacation of wins in which ineligible students participated; fines totaling more than $1 million; a nine conference game suspension for Boeheim; five years of probation; and a reduction of three men’s basketball scholarships per year for four years at the school.

The organization also said it found evidence of academic impropriety by the school, alleging SU’s former director of basketball operations Stan Kissel, and a men’s basketball receptionist, violated ethical conduct rules, by giving former university basketball star Fab Melo improper academic assistance at the school.

However, Boeheim said, in response to a question regarding the Brazilian student, “Syracuse has never admitted somebody here in the basketball program since I’ve been here that could not do the work. I think there’s a little racism involved when they start talking about not taking this guy or that guy. He’s from a foreign country. We shouldn’t have foreign students at Syracuse University?”

Boeheim also questioned whether the school’s basketball program faced harsher punishment than the school’s football program, which the NCCA had also found to have committed academic infractions.

“I note that in the same time period the committee found that three student-athletes in the football program did commit academic fraud,” he stated. “These infractions did not go unnoticed, but the penalties on the football program were far less than what was imposed on the basketball program. Does the central issue of head coach responsibility apply only to the basketball program? This illustrates the arbitrary manner in which the NCAA issues its penalties not just from school-to-school, but even within a single institution.”

The total sanctions on the school’s football program included a five-year probationary period; vacation of wins from three seasons; and, like the basketball program, the payment of $500 for every contest in which an ineligible student had played.

“I take responsibility for violation of NCAA rules that occurred within the basketball program,” Boeheim stated. “However, I believe that my effort to promote an atmosphere of compliance with the men’s basketball program was disregarded by the enforcement staff and the committee on infractions.”

Regarding his future, Boeheim said, “I am 70 years old. It’s obvious that there is a timeframe for me as the head basketball coach. As the chancellor indicated in his statement yesterday, I feel three years is right for me to be able to continue to do my job as well as I possibly could.”

SU’s athletic director, Daryl Gross, recently announced he will be moving into a marketing position at the school, and, according to Boeheim, assistant basketball coach Mike Hopkins is in line to take his place as head coach, but the decision will ultimately be left up to the school’s chancellor.