If this were a list of the most important human beings in Syracuse Athletics history, he would be No. 1. Instead, this is a top-100 athletes list, and Jim Boeheim comes in at #74.
As a staff, we were torn on Boeheim’s placement.
He came to SU’s campus in 1962, with freshman roommate Dave Bing, and successfully walked on to the basketball team. Syracuse was coming off a 2-22 season. Boeheim still turned down a partial scholarship from Colgate. Even back then, Jim was wearing glasses.
Boeheim didn’t play varsity as a freshman, but he said the freshman team beat the varsity team that year… by 40. He was offered a varsity scholarship for his sophomore season. His production steadily increased, from 5.2 points per game as a sophomore, to 8.9, and finally 14.6 as a senior.
That might not sound like an amazing feat, but find me walk-ons who end up averaging close to 15 points. That final season, Boeheim was made co-captain with Bing, and the backcourt duo led SU to a 22-6 record and the 2nd NCAA Tournament berth in program history.
Boeheim tried out for the Chicago Bulls upon graduation. He was the last player cut, and based on his book Bleeding Orange, he’s still a tad resentful that he didn’t make it. But in 1967, the opportunity emerged to reunite with Bing with the Detroit Pistons. Boeheim turned it down, so he could remain at Syracuse, working a job as unpaid assistant basketball coach and golf coach. His salary was $2,000.
As the story goes, a lot had to fall into place for the Boeheim-Syracuse marriage to happen. The walk-on from Lyons, New York became head coach on April 3rd, 1976.
He’s still head coach.