Christine Brennan, USA TODAY Sports
March 6, 2015
Nate Shron/Getty Images
You look at the laundry list of embarrassing and illegal decisions made by Jim Boeheim's Syracuse men's basketball program for more than a decade, then hear that the NCAA suspended him for nine ACC games next year, and you have to wonder:
How in the world is this man going to keep his job?
He will, of course, because Syracuse loves basketball more than life itself, and Boeheim probably more than basketball, but that doesn't make it right.
What was happening on Boeheim's watch should be appalling to anyone who still cares about the rules in college sports, if any of those people still exist. It also wasn't just one thing, or two. It was more than 10 years of things, lots of things, all of which fall under the umbrella of cheating.
Here are a few of the highlights:
From 2001 to early 2009, Syracuse did not follow its written drug-testing policies as required by the NCAA. You'll love the excuse. Athletics director Daryl Gross admitted they didn't follow the policy, and here's why: "The department followed an 'unwritten policy' because the written policy was confusing."
"Confusing?" How did Lance Armstrong not figure out how to use that excuse?
The confusion led to a result that should stun no one: Players who tested positive for drugs on more than one occasion were allowed to participate in practices and games, which obviously was in direct violation of the drug-testing policy.
Let's move to what we might loosely call academics. In January 2012, two basketball staff members – a receptionist and the director of men's basketball operations – completed coursework for an academically ineligible basketball player in order to restore his eligibility.
Ironically, the NCAA said, Boeheim handpicked the director of basketball operations to address academic matters in the program.
And the receptionist? From 2010-2012, that person and a team tutor "made revisions (and) created or wrote assignments" for three men's basketball players.
There also were illegal benefits given to two basketball players and three football players. After encouragement from the basketball staff, those players developed relationships with a booster who gave $8,335 in cash to the players after they "volunteered" at a local YMCA. The booster also gave money to basketball staff members for appearing at YMCA events which was not reported to the school as outside income or supplemental pay in violation of NCAA rules.
What's more, three of the athletes received academic credit in the same course for internships at the YMCA that they did not complete. Eventually, Syracuse rescinded the credit.
Rescinding the memory of this pathetic charade hopefully will take more time.
All in all, it was a decade of utter embarrassment for 70-year-old Boeheim, one of the most accomplished men's basketball coaches of our time.
"During the 10-year period of violations, the head basketball coach did not promote an atmosphere of compliance within his program and did not monitor the activities of those who reported to him as they related to academics and booster involvement," the NCAA said Friday. "Although the head basketball coach cited NCAA rules meetings with compliance staff and other initiatives, he operated under assumptions and did not follow up with his staff and students to ensure compliance."
We all know many people are disgusted with the NCAA and probably won't pay much attention to what it says, even when it's doing the job it's supposed to do, as in situations such as this.
But when will some of those people feel the same way about this kind of longtime, systemic cheating by someone who way too many people still idolize?