Jim Boeheim might be prickly. He might be stubborn. He might be a bully. One thing he’s not? Stupid. While the exodus of Orange players has been jarring in some ways the last two years, you’re not going to catch Boeheim grousing. In an appearance on ESPN Radio, Boeheim continually applauded the new transfer culture (kinda).
“The transfer — it gives the players that freedom, and I’m OK with it, I just think it’s going to lead to some kids who are maybe the next year, they’ll play.” – Jim Boeheim on “One-Time Transfer Rule”
Now, a player can transfer once and not be punished. That player will be eligible right away and not have to sit out the season anymore. Boeheim brought up the journey of Michael Carter-Williams, the poster child for battling through freshman frustration to succeed and become an NBA veteran.
“But again, the freedom part is there. I don’t like it when I hear the analogy on TV, ‘Well, coaches can leave.’ Well, if you want that to be the case, 15 coaches left this year, Division I. So at those schools, all the players can leave and play right away, fine. But again, I’m going to say I’m for this rule because it gives players freedom.” – Boeheim
This is a little bit of a misdirection by Boeheim. The argument between coach’s freedom vs. player’s freedom is that there has never been a penalty for taking another coaching job. A rule that would’ve allowed players to transfer freely if their coach just left would have quieted a lot of the criticism.
“I lost four, five guys. I got three guys in five days. So I’d rather have it more consistent, keeping the other guys we had. But this is the way it is and we’ll go with it. We lost two guys that probably would’ve started next year. But we brought in two guys that can probably start.” – Boeheim
And now you’re seeing why Boeheim is strategically supporting the transfer culture. It’s hurting the big programs, but also helping the big programs. Talent is seeking opportunity for playing time, exposure, and personal gain. Big schools, like Syracuse, provide that. So Cole Swider comes from Villanova, and Symir Torrence comes from Marquette. Those are schools recruiting against SU for kids every year anyway. Jimmy Boeheim is a unique circumstance because he’s family, but he was also being wooed by other power schools. The portal taketh, the portal giveth (to Syracuse).
“I think we’ll still, at the end of this year, we’ll lose somebody. But if they find a better place, that’s great. We had three guys transfer last year and they didn’t play much where they went to, so you just never know.” – Boeheim
Classic Boeheim. Supporting the transfer rule because he knows it can help him gain talent. But also taking a subtle dig at kids who are delusional about their “better opportunities elsewhere.” When Boeheim applauds the transfer rules, he’s making allies across the recruiting space. He’s aligning himself with the players who believe in freedom and will fill out his roster. It’s smart business, and Boeheim knows what he’s doing.