Does Syracuse have to worry about NCAA punishment? According to the Post-Standard the NCAA is investigating the program’s academic records. This prompted James Southerland to be suspended a second time. His initial suspension was because he received improper benefits, allegedly. He made a payment to make it up, “one source thought it to be around $70.”
So last month Syracuse’s director of basketball operations Stan Kissel resigns unexpectedly. Kissel stated that he wanted to spend more time with his family. But the timing of this is bizarre. The guy who has worked within the department for seven years bounces mid-season? And just a week before Southerland gets suspended?
Just look at the last calendar year on the Hill. Fab Melo is suspended for academic reasons. Then he’s ineligible for the tournament (which Boeheim would later say was not academics). Yahoo Sports reports there’s widespread drug failings at SU. The director of baseball ops resigns in the middle of the season. Big time player is suspended for taking $70? And then deemed academically ineligible for a tutor writing part of his term paper?
We’re not even counting the supposed Michael Carter-Williams Carousel Mall theft, because it didn’t involve the NCAA (we think). Are investigators snooping around the Orange? Certainly seems so. Do you have any idea how many basketball players will suit up this weekend who have taken at least $70 in benefits somewhere down the line? The entire country would have at least one starter suspended. And how would anybody know a tutor wrote part of his paper? That’s catching ants with a magnifying glass.
This is not to let Southerland off the hook. After the Fab disaster, Syracuse and all players should be taking everything way more seriously. There should be no sniff of any wrongdoing. Go to every class, take tests by yourself, get your easy C’s, don’t take drugs during the season, don’t steal, and say “please” and “thank you.”
But this seems preposterous. Seventy-freaking-bucks? Kissel resigns quietly? Is the NCAA all up on SU hoops because none of the Bernie Fine stuff stuck? Is Jim Boeheim running a loose program now that he sees the end of the line in his career? Last March I wrote:
“Before we blame the NCAA for snooping, or Bernie for having skeletons, or Fab for not going to class, we have to ask ourselves if SU is responsible for all of the above. Has a powerful cash-infused program turned a blind eye toward multiple potentially damning situations?”
It’s becoming a night terror for SU basketball fans. For every top 5 ranking, big national win, good vibe wafting from a packed Carrier Dome, a potential bogeyman is lurking around the corner. You learn not to get too excited because something will derail it. And while that used to be a freak injury or a missed free throw, unfortunately the trap doors are off the court. Do we now have to start worrying about NCAA suspensions or punishments? You’d hope not. But the signs are starting to get worrying.