The NCAA handed Syracuse’s men’s basketball team a long list of penalties on Friday. The sanctions were the result of an eight-year investigation into the university’s athletic department, but might not be a severe as they seem.
The punshiment will, however, likely have some long-term effects on the university. The list of penalties are lengthy for the storied program, and have drawn a great deal of attention. Head coach Jim Boeheim will be suspended for the first nine ACC games in the 2015-15 season, 108 of Boeheim’s career wins will be vacated, 12 scholarships will be lost over four years, and the school will be fined $500 per contest played by ineligible students. Syracuse also has to return funds to the NCAA it received from the Big East Conference revenue sharing system via NCAA tournament appearances.
The NCCA said the violations include academic misconduct, extra benefits, improper booster activity and a failure to follow drug-testing policy. The blame fell largely on Boeheim and the university’s athletic administration.
“Over the course of a decade, Syracuse University did not control and monitor its athletics programs, and its head men’s basketball coach failed to monitor his program,” the NCAA said in a statement.
Syracuse, which self-imposed a postseason ban for this year and will remain on probation for five years, can still recover its future despite the penalties. The Orange can play in the postseason next year and can still make the most of what scholarships remain available. While obviously a detriment, the penalties are by no means a death sentence for the program.
“The [loss of] scholarships... that’s not going to stop Syracuse from getting really good players,” said ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas. “They just pull scholarships from someone at the end of the bench.”
Four prospects in the top 100 of the class of 2015 have already committed to play at Syracuse, according to Scout.com. That incoming crop of commitments features No. 29 recruit Malachi Richardson, No. 71 Moustapha Diagne, No. 73 Franklin Howard and No. 81 Tyler Lydon. Matthew Moyer, the No. 11 power forward of the 2016 class according to Scout.com, has already committed to Syracuse as well. The team is also in hot pursuit of top recruit Thomas Bryant who will likely make his decision among top-choices Kentucky and Indiana this month. The center out of West Virginia is ranked No. 33 overall for the class of 2015 by Scout.
If top talent continues to flock to Boeheim’s program, his suspension and the penalties might not take too much of a toll. Bilas was critical of the NCAA’s long investigation and corresponding response.
“I don’t think it signals anything different than what we’ve seen in years past,” he said. “They shame some people and they move on.”
Perhaps the shaming worked to some extent on Boeheim, who skipped out on his postgame press conference after his team lost on Saturday at North Carolina State, 71-57. Boeheim was booed by the Wolfpack crowd that also sung out the chorus to the song “YMCA.” The song was reference to an infraction involving a booster providing more than $8,000 to three football and two basketball players for volunteering at a YMCA.
The immediate aftermath aside, it appears that the most lasting effect of the penalties might be the loss of wins for Boeheim. If Bilas is to be believed, the loss of scholarships should not affect the talent level Syracuse will boast in the next few years.
But the infractions from 2004-07 and 2010-12 seasons will certainly cost the legacy of the coach who was 32 wins from the landmark 1,000 career total. The 108 lost victories push Boeheim’s total down to 858. Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski is the only Division I coach in the 1,000-win club. It appears it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.