Syracuse basketball is the perennial power in New York, and has been that way since St. John’s plummeted to Earth fifteen years ago.
But one school’s efforts, just an hour down I-81 from Syracuse, to level the playing field may have gotten them into more trouble then what it was worth.
Binghamton University recently booted six players from the team after a messy and tumultuous offseason.
Remember SUNY-Bing’s rise to the NCAA tournament last year? It was an anomaly, a team that went 14-16 in the 2007-2008 year. Then they won the America East conference the following season and were seen as a potential sleeper team before losing to Duke in the first round.
They got there through controversial transfer students, like Malik Alvin and Tiki Mayben. Yes, you remember the great unibrowed Tiki, who could never quite make it on The Hill because of academics and other issues.
And Alvin was no Wes Johnson transfer role model either; he was caught stealing Trojan Magnums from a Wal-Mart last year.
A difficult situation became more controversial because the America East likes to publicly put academics ahead of athletics, and multiple coaches in the conference had rejected the way the Bearcats were assembled.
Both players were released in the last week after Mayben had drug charges leveled against him. One other notable release was David Fine, the son of SU legendary assistant Bernie Fine.
(Editor’s Note: And the school’s decision on hiring assistant coaches two years ago wasn’t the best PR move in retrospect. At least get some better lighting for these mug shots. Who wouldn’t invite these two dudes into their living room for a recruiting chat? Smiles, guys!)
Things got fishier as the athletic director resigned shortly after.
And then came the backbreaker. Binghamton suspended its off campus recruiting program (that means no visits, people) after they told the NCAA coach Kevin Broadus was breaking the rules.
Recruiting, by nature, is a business conducive to stretching the rules. Even Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim found his way into the spider’s web in the early ’90s; currently, the legendary Jim Calhoun is having his own NCAA problems.
But the implications of the Binghamton scandal, might they be accurate, are sickening: coach and AD agree to build mega-transfer team to beat up on weak, academic-based conference and regain some glory in the New York hoops world after domination by the ‘Cuse.
The hoops future is dim down in Spiedie Land.