Yesterday was one of the most emotional days of Syracuse basketball’s long and stressful season (not what’d you’d expect the day after the year ended with the Orange falling in the second round of the NIT). The sky started falling when Mike Hopkins started the offseason by leaving his post as head-coach-in-waiting to take the same position at Washington. Then, Orange Nation rejoiced when the University responded by extending Jim Boeheim’s contract for four years, keeping the Hall-of-Famer on the books until the end of the 2021-2022 season. The move was easily the safest decision for the school, but it was also another chapter in Syracuse and Jim Boeheim’s rivalry with the NCAA.
Does Jim Boeheim really hate the NCAA? At first, it was just fun to think about, but over time it’s become more apparent the two are far from friends. Of course, this all started with the sanctions put on the Syracuse basketball at the end of the 2014-15 season. Syracuse self-imposed a postseason ban for the season and the NCAA added on scholarship reductions and took away 101 wins from the school and Boeheim’s record. Boeheim also announced he would retire after the 2017-18 season. He was never happy about these sanctions. At the time, he complained that the NCAA was taking away an NCAA Tournament opportunity from players who had nothing to do with the alleged charges, and said he had never done anything wrong. On the other hand, Syracuse’s team was close to missing the tournament regardless, and some thought the move was a ploy by SU to make sure it was eligible for the tournament when Boeheim’s “best recruiting class ever” got to the school the next season.It worked, as the NCAA didn’t extend the postseason ban and Syracuse was able to make a run to the Final Four in 2016 without the sanctions having much of an effect at all. The Orange even managed to front-load its scholarship sanctions in a year SU was short on commits. When the Orange made that Final Four, fans claimed Syracuse had beaten the system. SU made the biggest stage in the sport with the NCAA breathing down its neck, and Jim Boeheim can win no matter what the man throws at him. We were all still reaching for straws at that point, but this season it’s become more clear that — at the very least — Jim Boeheim doesn’t care about the NCAA’s rules.
Boeheim may not have cared about losing a few scholarships or being accused of breaking the rules, but when the sanctions were put in place he may not have realized how much he cared about getting 1000 wins. He was more emotional than many had seen him after Syracuse’s win over Virginia this season, and he even said “I’ve been here for 1000 wins” after the game. Boeheim always says what he wants, but he usually stays away from topics like those. He never talks about Syracuse’s hopes for the NCAA Tournament, and on most of the big picture stuff usually asks to keep the questions related to the game at hand (although not always that nicely). He wanted 1000, and maybe he didn’t like that it had been taken away from him. That wasn’t the only reason Boeheim had to hold a grudge toward the NCAA. On Selection Sunday, Syracuse was left out of the field of 68, leading Boeheim to make this comment:
Boeheim says NIT chair was told Syracuse was in the NIT a week ago.
— chris carlson (@ccarlsononSU) March 13, 2017
Boeheim has taken every chance to take stabs at the NCAA this season, and yesterday dealt his biggest blow yet. If the NCAA and Syracuse made a deal when the sanctions were imposed in 2015, Boeheim’s retirement was part of that deal. Coach is now ignoring that entirely. Also, four more years at Syracuse will almost guarantee (if he can keep doing what he’s done for 40 years) that Boeheim will get to 1000 wins, no asterisk. Take that, NCAA.
Boeheim seems to love to hate the NCAA, and the fans love it too. With the university and Orange Nation on his side, the next five years are sure to bring some of the most memorable post-game press conferences in Boeheim’s long and storied history.
Posted: Nathan Dickinson