Jim Boeheim: No word on appeal, suspension ‘excruciating punishment’

Jim Boeheim is facing a nine-game suspension and also a vacation of previous wins. (USATSI)

Jim Boeheim has put an appeal in with the NCAA regarding his nine-game punishment to start the ACC schedule, in the middle of the 2015-16 season. On Wednesday, at ACC media day, Boeheim discussed the NCAA’s harsh measures against him and the Syracuse program.

For the moment, Boeheim is still waiting out a response from the NCAA as to whether it will reduce or eliminate the suspension. Boeheim said he doesn’t know when a decision on the appeal is coming exactly, but the school expects it sometime in the next “two weeks.”

“The difficult part of the thing obviously is in the beginning you lost games but you could go to practice,” Boeheim said. “Now you can’t go to practice or talk to the players, and I don’t know where that came from or why that evolved into that, because it’s certainly a punishment for a coach to miss nine games. That’s a very severe punishment. And some people would say, ‘OK, that’s what you got.’ I don’t think it was ever really the intent in the beginning when we talked about this rule, that you would not be able to go to practice, that you would not be able to talk to the players.”

Syracuse’s season starts in 16 days; the Orange open up at home against Lehigh, favorites in the Patriot League.

Squeezing the orange
Some of the NCAA penalties for Syracuse’s for numerous violations over the last 10 years
  • Boeheim will be suspended for the team’s first nine ACC games next season
  • 12 lost scholarships over next four seasons
  • Vacation of all wins in which ineligible men’s basketball students played in 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2010-11 and 2011-12
  • Accepted the school’s self-imposed postseason ban for the 2014-15 season
  • Five years of probation

Boeheim referred to the punishment as “severe” on Wednesday, adding, “So here I am with three freshman that I’m coaching every day and they’re used to what I’m doing and having me there with them. The punishment is on me, and that’s taking away games. But it hurts them the next day when I can’t be there and say, ‘You should relax, you can do this, you can do that.’ Not even really coach them that hard, just to talk to them. I think that’s very harsh, and particularly harsh on those players.”

The NCAA does not have a long track record of reducing suspensions, let alone eliminating them. SMU coach Larry Brown, whose program was similarly sanctioned by the NCAA, is also facing a nine-game suspension.

SMU, however, is not fighting that specific penalty.

Boeheim maintains the measures taken against him — for multiple transgressions in his program regarding academic misconduct, a rogue booster giving cash to associates with Syracuse basketball, and multiple failed drug tests from past players — are over the top.

“It’s one thing for me to be punished,” he said. “To miss nine games is an excruciating punishment. It’s a huge punishment. But to not be able to talk to your players during that time, that’s difficult.”

Syracuse’s biggest punishment has already passed. The school instituted a self-imposed postseason ban last year, meaning it is eligible to play in any tournament come 2016. Boeheim will also not be allowed to communicate with assistants or employees tied to the basketball program.

“It’s crazy, it doesn’t make sense,” Boeheim said. “They may not want me to talk to them. I assume I can talk to them about, say, ‘How’s your wife doing?’ but I don’t even think they want me to ask that question. And I don’t really want to know, either. Their sons play at my house, so I hope I don’t say something that might go home to their fathers.”

Boeheim said he’s not sure what he’ll do if the suspension is upheld, but speculated he might just get away entirely and go to Florida. He’s certain he won’t bide his time on campus, at the team’s practice facility, because he doens’t want any accidental encounters to bring on more problems with the NCAA.

“If I’m in Florida playing golf and someone takes a picture of me and my team is getting beat by 20, I don’t think that’s a good thing,” Boeheim said. “My wife doesn’t want me to be home for 25 straight days, I guarantee you that.”


Chip Patterson contributed to this story.

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