The big bad NCAA came for Syracuse’s jugular in March of 2016. After a ludicrously lengthy investigation of eight years, the infractions committee imposed harsh penalties and sanctions against mostly the basketball program, but also the football program. You can read a much less entertaining, more official summary of the violations here, but allow me.
- Syracuse did not punish players for failing internal drug tests due to Marijuana positives. If only Frank Howard played ten years sooner.
- A booster paid players hefty sums for “volunteering” at a local YMCA.
- Men’s basketball staff members did a players’ homework in 2012. Football players misrepresented an internship for credit from 2005-2007.
Overall, the NCAA cited a “lack of institutional control,” and really dropped the hammer.
- 101 wins were erased from Jim Boeheim’s coaching record.
- A total of 12 scholarships were taken away from men’s basketball. Based on precedent, that is way too many. Syracuse appealed and won. Four scholarships were returned from the initial penalty.
- Boeheim was suspended for the first nine games of the 2015-16 season. Pre-appeal, it was the first nine games of conference play.
- The football and basketball programs were placed on five-year probation. That doesn’t affect much, but it certainly sounds scary.
Despite the half-successful appeal, Syracuse was indeed caught red-handed. Do tons of other programs do the same things? Safe to assume, yes. But the Orange got caught. Chancellor Kent Syvaruud, known for his email-sending, sent out an email outlining the removal of Athletics Director Darryl Gross and plans for Beoheim’s resignation following the 2017-18 season. One of those two things happened.
The timing of the NCAA’s penalties penalties are one good explanation for why Syracuse has stumbled in regular season play since moving to the ACC. In addition, Boeheim’s legacy is further complicated by the concept of “vacated wins.”
You can’t vacate wins.
It doesn’t work that way. The wins happened. NCAA sanctions are fair play, but re-writing history is a tedious exercise that really doesn’t do anything for anyone. Syracuse fans predicatively ignored the vacated wins, and celebrated in the Carrier Dome in 2017 when the head coach hit the 1000 win mark in upset fashion against No. 9 Virginia. It was, officially, Boeheim’s 899th win.
“I’ve been a part of 1000 wins,” Boeheim said to ESPN after the game.
Yes, he has.