Syracuse Basketball Future Takes Hit, NCAA Levels Sanctions

Syracuse basketball and coach Jim Boeheim was hit hard by NCAA penalties on Friday afternoon.

The NCAA handed down harsh penalties to the Syracuse basketball program for violations that occurred from 2001-2012. The Orange were placed on five years of probation, stripped of 12 scholarships and had 108 wins vacated. Boeheim also was suspended for nine ACC games next year. In addition, Syracuse had its number of permissible off-campus recruiters reduced from four to two from June 1, 2015 through May 31, 2017.

The NCAA accepted Syracuse’s self-imposed postseason ban for the 2014-2015 season, thus declining to deny future teams a chance to compete in the postseason. Syracuse was also fined a substantial amount of money.

The penalties stem from Syracuse’s 10 self-reported violations which includes academic misconduct, impermissible academic assistance and services, extra benefits, failure to follow the drug-testing policy and impermissible booster activity.

Boeheim received the harshest criticsm by the NCAA for his role in the violations. The NCAA cited Boeheim for not promoting an atmosphere of compliance and failure to monitor the activities of those who reported to him regarding academics and boosters.

“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, according to a decision issued by a Division I Committee on Infractions panel.”

The removal of 108 of the program’s wins rom the school’s record book is a result of the team using ineligible players between 2004-07 and 2010-12. The penalty drops Boeheim from second to sixth on the Division I coaching career wins list as he now has 858 career victories.

Several of the violations involved students and staff according to the NCAA. The committe specifically addressed its concern about academic integrity.

“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 behavior in this case, which placed the desire to achieve success on the basketball court over academic integrity, demonstrated clearly misplaced institutional priorities.”

The reduction of scholarships is by far the most severe of the penalties that the NCAA handed down. Now the question is how will the scholarship reduction impact the program’s ability to attract top recruits?

As a result of the penalties, the Orange will only have 10 scholarships available starting in 2015-16 and for the three subsequent years. However, according to Mike Waters of, the NCAA indicated that Syracuse could hold off on the scholarship reduction until the 2016-17 season if it currently had any financial relationships with any student-athletes. The Orange have such agreements with all four of their 2015 recruits — Malachi Richardson, Tyler Lydon, Moustapha Diagne and Frank Howard — as they have signed letters of intent with the school.

Waters stated that Syracuse is currently at the 13-scholarship limit for next season. He added that would mean that the recruitment of the highly-touted Thomas Bryant, a Rochester (NY) native, is over. As Syracuse would not be able to get a waiver of the scholarship reduction to bring him in. Therefore, the Orange would need four players to leave the program in order to sign Bryant.

All four of SU’s 2015 recruits have reaffirmed their commitment to the school following the handing down of the penalties by the NCAA, Waters said.

If no player leaves the program between now and the end of the 2016 season, Syracuse is on track to have 11 scholarship players in 2016-17. Mattew Moyer, a four-star recruit from Ohio, is the only player from the class of 2016 that has verbally committed to SU. The reduction of scholarships could cause the Orange to stop recruiting five-star shooting guard Tyus Battle.

Syracuse will lose five players following the 2016-17 season — Dajuan Coleman, Tyler Roberson, Ron Patterson, B.J. Johnson and Chinonso Obokoh. Making the class of 2017 the next important recruiting class for the Orange.

SU chancellor Kent Syverud said that the school is considering appealing certain parts of the ruling while Boeheim, who released a statement on Friday night in regards of the NCAA’s ruling, said he is currently weighing his options.

“Although the university recognizes the seriousness of the violations it has acknowledged, it respectfully disagrees with certain findings of the Committee,” Syverud said in a statement. “Specifically, the university strongly disagrees that it failed to maintain institutional control over its athletics programs, or that men’s basketball head coach Jim Boeheim has taken actions that justify a finding that he was responsible for the rules violations.”

[Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images]