Jim Boeheim will appeal NCAA sanctions, confirms plan to retire in three years

The SU head coach emphasized the cleanliness of his team and expressed displeasure with the NCAA's rulings two weeks ago.

For those who have always thought or wondered, SU men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim made it abundantly clear Thursday morning. 

He does not run Syracuse University, and his time with the program is running out. 

During a press conference at the Carrier Dome, Boeheim addressed his intention to file an appeal with the NCAA regarding his nine-game suspension, handed down March 6 following an investigation into multiple violations by the program, as well as the claim that he plans to retire in three seasons. 

Photo: Luke Rafferty
Syracuse Orange Coach Jim Boeheim answers questions from the media during a press conference in the Carrier Dome Thursday morning regarding recent allegations from the NCAA.

“I believe in what we are doing at Syracuse University and will continue to build on the great program we have established,” Boeheim said. 

Boeheim’s tactics and program were originally brought into question years ago, most notably in regards to the academic eligibility of former center Fab Melo, who was suspended in 2011 for academic violations. 

However, Boeheim defended Melo and said he, along with every other athlete the 39-year SU head coach has ever recruited, was academically eligible unless actions against the athlete were taken, like in Melo’s case. 

“Everyone who has been admitted to Syracuse University since I have been here has been capable of completing the work necessary,” Boeheim said. “He was completely eligible by all academic standards. Syracuse University has never admitted somebody here in the basketball program since I have been here that could not do the work here.” 

He went on to say that many of the allegations regarding Melo’s intellectual ability come from a more deeply-rooted, societal problem. 

“I think there is a little racism involved when talking about taking this guy or that guy. Should we not have someone here because he’s from a foreign country?” Boeheim asked. 

Even while defending his former big man, Boeheim accepted responsibility for each violation in the 94-page NCAA report, noting that as head coach he needed to know all the inner workings of the basketball program. 

Boeheim plans to stick around to see the appeals process through and, in a meeting with SU Chancellor Kent Svyerud, agreed to retire three seasons from now. 

“I’m 70 years old. It is obvious there is a timeframe for me at the university,” Boeheim acknowledged. “I feel like three years for me is the appropriate timeline for me to be able to continue to benefit the men’s basketball program.” 

It was the first time Boeheim formally declared any sort of retirement plan. 

“I had no plans to coach for this long. This investigation has made it imperative. I never thought about retirement because there was no way to think about it during this time,” Boeheim said. “The Final Four in 2012 would have been a great time to go out, but it wasn’t the time because of the investigation.” 

As for the future of Syracuse basketball, Boeheim believes current assistant coach Mike Hopkins would be a good fit for the Orange, but reinforced that the decision is not his. 

“It’s a myth that I somehow run things at Syracuse University. I don’t decide who’s hired at Syracuse University, whether it’s the chancellor or athletic director or the people I work directly with,” Boeheim said. “Chancellor Syverud will hire the next coach. With that said, I believe Mike Hopkins is going to be a great coach, and I fervently believe he would be a great fit for Syracuse University.” 

With the future of the program up in the air, Boeheim did make one promise to his recruits. 

“You only need to listen to me for three years,” Boeheim said.

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