Over the past 48 hours dating back to Monday night, Syracuse has gotten not one, but two uppercuts to the jaw. First, Jesse Edwards entered the transfer portal after failing to come up with an NIL agreement with the university (complicated by the fact that he’s an international player). Then, Tuesday produced the news that Adam Weitsman will no longer be supporting Syracuse athletics through NIL, and he cited pushback from Chancellor Kent Syverud and his administration as the reason for doing so.
This puts Adrian Autry in an interesting position. Starting with Edwards, Autry loses an All-ACC caliber center, a veteran leader, and one of the best shot blockers in the country. But, he does gain the freedom to go find a player potentially more tailored to the style of play he wants his teams to go with. There’s reports that the Orange are after a couple of different centers in the portal, and boy do they desperately need one. All that’s left right now is Mounir Hima, Peter Carey, and the incoming William Paterson, none of whom would seem to be ready to start next season.
Abou Ousmane is an interesting name considering his production at North Texas, his northeast background, and relative experience. Another possible name is Elijah Hutchins-Everett from Austin Peay, who Syracuse lightly recruited out of high school before he initially committed to Penn State before reversing course and heading elsewhere. Obviously, Hunter Dickinson is the big fish in the portal right now, but he seems destined for Maryland or Georgetown, with the Terrapins the likely destination at the moment.
So, Autry is going to have to find a solution to this problem, the first one he’s encountered in his short time as head coach. Thankfully, it’s a short-term issue, but what’s a long-term issue is Syracuse’s NIL capabilities. With Weitsman out of the picture, there are small donors and collectives that don’t make themselves publicly known like the CNY celebrity did. But, that means we know even less information about Syracuse’s NIL strategy and relationships, which already seem to be far behind the rest of the country.
Losing arguably your best player because of money is the new reality in college athletics, and this is a nice cold splash in the face for SU because it now needs to realize that this needs to be addressed and taken care of because it will fall further into irrelevance if its NIL capabilities don’t improve to bring talent to Central New York.
Weitsman’s departure could be just the first domino to fall, and maybe it turns out to be a good thing, but at least in the short-term, it’s a bad look and one that alums and fans are not happy about on social media. Autry has short-term and long-term issues to deal with right now, on top of everything else on his plate. How he and his staff handle them will tell us where this program is going, back on the upswing or continuing to dive toward college basketball irrelevance.