Jim Boeheim might be done on the sidelines, but he’s far from finished having a voice at SU. This week he was named Special Assistant to the AD. As Syracuse.com described it:
“Boeheim is now listed in the SU athletics department staff directory under AD John Wildhack, Wildhack’s executive assistant Mary Kelly and senior deputy athletic director Herman Frazier. Boeheim alluded to his new role last Friday during a press conference to introduce former SU player and associate head coach Adrian Autry as Boeheim’s head coaching successor.”
If this is merely a ceremonial position, used as an olive branch to honor Boeheim, that’s fine. Clearly Jim wasn’t thrilled with the proposition of retiring, but it seems as though he’s come to a certain amount of acceptance. Obviously, Boeheim would be an incredibly valuable resource for Wildhack and Autry for reference on conference politics, program history, and wisdom on college athletics. But Boeheim also likes to feel important, and has extremely strong opinions.
Special assistants are usually ceremonial positions, and Boeheim needs to understand boundaries. It’s hard to imagine Boeheim pouring a cup of coffee in the breakroom, waving to Margaret in compliance, and then going to his office to quietly read the Post-Standard all day. Is Boeheim going to insert himself into the program’s decisions if there’s a losing streak? Is Boeheim going to publicly question players on a radio show? Is Autry going to feel suffocated as he tries to climb out of the shadow of the last 47 years?
If you could guarantee Boeheim understands his role and respects his limitations, then this is a smart move. You don’t want the most important figure in program history to feel alienated. Allowing Boeheim to hold a position in the department gives everyone a feeling of peace, fans included. One big happy family right?
But Boeheim has never had to play second fiddle and watch someone else direct his program. And he’s not the type who will coast into retirement playing golf 6 days a week. Autry deserves space to create his own legacy. The re-recruitment of JJ Starling was a good start. Let’s hope he gets that from Boeheim.