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Just the facts Jack, that’s all we need.
The NCAA Tourney tipped off Thursday morning around the country, and by the time we were done with the 16-opening day games, most all anyone wanted to talk about was the Pre Game Show.
No, not the one on CBS-TV, but rather the one at Syracuse University’s Carrier Dome, where Orange veteran coach Jim Boeheim was firing 3-points shots from every location, in the direction of the NCAA.
Defiant from start to finish, defensive of his program, deliberate in ripping apart the 94-page volume of violations laid out, Boeheim put on great theatre. He refuted time and again that he was a coach, the CEO of the program, who was responsible for all the wrong doing in a decade long run of excellence on the court, and a 10-year run of wrong doing off the court, to keep his players eligible.
He is going to appeal he says, the 9-game suspension he has incurred. He is going to fight the 5-years probation, the stripping of 12-basketball scholarships, and harsh condemnation of what allowed SU to become a national power, ‘cheating’.
Boeheim talked and talked, admitting it was his program, and upwards of ten times, indicating, he takes responsibility for his program. But in the process, he continued the public stance, he had no knowledge of what was happening in the basketball offices, with his staff, and his players, even though he was boss.
He laid out lots of people. His departed Basketball Operations director, who turned in work on behalf of a player, to get a grade changed, a year after the fact, took a hit from the head coach.
He beat up the national media for continuing to insinuate that academics were not important, despite the fact 4-Orange players had academic issues in a 10-year span, but thru appeals, stayed eligible. He said recruiting ‘at risk’ academic players was allowable, because the university admitted them. He said he was never part of the formation of the Syracuse drug testing program, of which a number of Orange players may have skated by while doing marijuana.
Boeheim wondered aloud why basketball took the brunt of the NCAA hits, when Orange football had alot more academic issues with at least 3-players being caught in grade changing issues. And he said he had no knowledge boosters were paying players and giving money to his office staff as part of a YMCA work program he had approved.
It was classic ‘woe is me’ considering he kept repeating I take responsibility for my program. He said he will coach three more years, then retire, but did not want a Derek Jeter type farewell tour. He played martyr too by indicating he’d donate his salary from the suspended games next year, to a charity.
There’s no doubt Boeheim has raised enormous amounts of money for a great academic institution. He has carried the banner of the rebirth of Big East Conference basketball. No doubt too, he became so powerful, that maybe he stopped paying attention.
But his Athletic Director, Daryl Gross, is gone now, by virtue of collateral damage from this; the 2nd in command in that program has left the school this week, but Boeheim remains, much to the surprise of the national media. Of course his coaching friends will come to his defense. Of course they don’t think he is a cheat. But how do they really know all the facets of the Fab Melo-James Southerland fiascos, that seem to be the tip of the iceberg on that campus.
Boeheim will not win an appeal. By the time the NCAA sanctions are up, and they have few scholarship players, Syracuse will be more like Colgate and Cornell than they will a Big East-ACC basketball power. Move over Wake Forest, here comes the Orange down the chute to join you in the basketball basement.
On the opening day of the tourney, Jim Boeheim was balling, I mean bawling, crying about injustice.
I was awed at the theatrics by the coach. The longer I watched this unfold and made notes, the more it seemed to bring back memories of another fallen leader, in defiance, in desperation.
Jim Boeheim sure sounded alot like Richard Nixon, and we know how all that worked out.