In March 2015, the NCAA concluded its investigation into the Syracuse athletic department. Nineteen months later, more details have emerged regarding the sanctions levied against Syracuse, which, as part of the punishment, must vacate 101 wins, including its 2006 Big East Tournament title.
“There were some recruit restrictions (and) obviously the loss of scholarships over a four-year period,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “At first, it was 12, then we appealed and it ended up at eight – two scholarships a year for four years. There were some other sanctions as well. And we admitted to this and we accepted it. We’ve moved on. We knew it was 101 wins. We may not agree with it, but we knew that. The only problem we have, in all honesty, is that if you publish a media guide, you have to identify the players that were involved in those losses. If you don’t publish a media guide, then obviously you don’t have to (identify the) players. But all schools publish a media guide and to not publish a media guide would look like we’re trying to hide something. But the problem with the ruling from the NCAA is you have to then name the player or players who was involved in those losses. We’ve accepted the punishment, I’ve accepted the punishment and I’m responsible. I’ve said that many, many times. I don’t really want to say it anymore – I’ve said it enough – but it’s true. But I didn’t want to have to put the players’ names in the record books so that everybody would say, ‘Okay, this player is responsible for this loss or these losses.’ I didn’t want to do that, but you have to do it. That was the only thing I had a problem with.”
Boeheim said that many of the violations were rooted in tutoring.
“Most of them – not all – were about tutoring, and one was a speech for $300,” Boeheim said. “The money was repaid but not reinstated. That one was 45 games.”
Syracuse vacated 15 wins from 2004-05, 23 wins from 2005-06, 22 wins from 2006-07, seven wins from 2010-11 and 34 wins from 2011-12. Only wins, not losses, were vacated. Thus, Syracuse didn’t go 0-0 in 2011-12; instead, its 34-3 record becomes 0-3.
It seems odd to only take away the wins, no?
“Yeah, well, that’s what they do,” Boeheim said. “Again, I don’t have any problem with any of this. This was the result and we accept those results. I just really feel bad (for the players). I just didn’t want to identify the players. It’s fine to identify me, fine to identify the program. We messed up in the eyes of the NCAA, and we have to face the punishment that we have to face. But I just would rather have not had to name the players involved in the individual losses. That’s all.”
Boeheim enters the 2016-17 season with 884 wins, as opposed to 985. The 71-year-old said the vacated wins will in no way affect his retirement plans.
“Not at all,” said Boeheim, who intends to retire after the 2017-18 season. “I’ve never coached for a certain number of wins. The only thing I coach for, I think each year I try to win a certain number of games and get to the tournament and then try to be successful in the tournament. Last year is a great example. We had a very disappointing regular season, and yet, we had an unbelievable NCAA Tournament and got all the way to the Final Four. So it was a great overall season, even though too much emphasis is put on the NCAA Tournament. But that’s just the way the game is set up now.”
Boeheim is focused entirely on this year – and for good reason. He’s got a pretty good squad.
“The last couple years, we were a little bit down,” he said. “We only had six or seven guys the last two years. We just didn’t have quite enough players. We lost a couple guys early and just couldn’t replace them. But this year we have 10 guys. This is the first time in four years that we’ve had depth. You don’t need a lot of guys, but when you got o work with six or seven, it’s dangerous. We got through it last year. It worked out obviously very well toward the end of the year, but it was a tough year in terms of trying to keep everybody in the game and not get in foul trouble and hopefully not have anybody get hurt. But the year we’ve got more depth, we’re a little bit bigger and (we’ve got) a little bit more flexibility.
“The wins we have this year are important,” Boeheim continued. “That’s what’s important. The wins in the past, they’re over. They’re done. The games you won in high school, who remembers that? It was a great experience. The games we won were great experiences. But they’re just numbers and you have to focus on how you’re going to do this year. That’s the only thing you can focus on. That’s the only thing that’s really important.”