Perennial college basketball power Syracuse University was slapped with severe sanctions by the NCAA for a decade long series of violations.
The NCAA also gave legendary basketball coach Jim Boeheim a 9 game suspension to be served next year. The school will be docked 3 scholarships a year for 4 years, and forfeit some games that ineligible players participated.
The bulk of the violations concerned athletic department officials interfering with academics and making sure star players stayed eligible.
The basketball team must vacate wins in which ineligible players participated. Those players competed during five seasons: 2004-2007 and 2010-2012.
“The behavior in this case, which placed the desire to achieve success on the basketball court over academic integrity, demonstrated clearly misplaced institutional priorities,” the NCAA said.
Boeheim, the second-winningest coach in Division I history with 966 victories, has coached at Syracuse for 39 years, having played at the school as well. The 70-year-old coach has been an assistant on the last two gold medalist U.S. Olympic teams.
The punishment includes financial penalties and the reduction of three men’s basketball scholarships a year for four years. Recruiting restrictions will be enforced for two years. Boeheim’s suspension will sideline him for half the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.
The four-year investigation also revealed violations by the football program, although most of them came in men’s basketball.
In anticipation of the report, Syracuse chancellor Kent Syverud had announced a postseason ban for this year for the basketball team. The NCAA accepted the ban, meaning next year’s recruits won’t be affected.
Syverud said the school does not agree with certain aspects of the ruling and is considering a possible challenge. Syverud said Boeheim may choose to appeal that part of the decision that affects him personally.
“Should he decide to do so, we would support him in this step,” Syverud said in a statement.
Boeheim was en route with the team to North Carolina and could not be immediately reached for comment.
The NCAA said Boeheim did not promote an atmosphere of compliance and failed to monitor the activities of those who reported to him regarding academics and boosters.
The NCAA said several violations involved students and staff. The report added that academic violations stemmed from the director of basketball operations, who was hand-picked by Boeheim to address academic matters.
Boeheim was considered one of the good guys of college sports. A tough, no nonsense leader, beloved of his players, the consistent excellence of his teams year in and year out marked the Syracuse program as one of the top 10 programs in the country.
Now it appears that Boeheim was sweeping academic problems under the rug, and even finagling grades:
“Improper institutional involvement and influence in a student’s academic work in order to gain or maintain eligibility is a violation of NCAA rules and a violation of the most fundamental core values of the NCAA and higher education,” the committee wrote.
The school also didn’t follow it’s own drug policy:
The committee also found that from 2001-09 the school did not follow its own written policies and procedures for students who tested positive for banned substances. NCAA rules require that if schools have a drug-testing policy, it must include substances on the banned list and the school must follow its policy. Syracuse had a written policy, but both Boeheim and athletic director Daryl Gross acknowledged they did not follow it.
This is extremely disappointing news. It makes you wonder if other seemingly untouchable schools have problems as well.