NCAA Bans Syracuse’s Boeheim Nine Games, Cuts 12 Scholarships

Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim was suspended for nine conference games next season after college sports’ governing body said he “failed to monitor” his program and didn’t encourage compliance.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association yesterday announced discipline in an eight-year investigation that found academic misconduct, extra benefits for athletes and lax drug testing. Syracuse also was docked three scholarships a year over the next four years and told to repay NCAA tournament revenue from its past three postseasons.

The NCAA called Syracuse’s transgressions “a violation of the most fundamental core values of the NCAA and higher education.”

Syracuse imposed a one-year postseason ban on its basketball team last month, meaning it wouldn’t participate in the Atlantic Coast Conference or NCAA tournaments. Yesterday’s action accepted that self-punishment without any further postseason bans.

“Syracuse University did not and does not agree with all the conclusions reached by the NCAA, including some of the findings and penalties,” Chancellor Kent Syverud said in a statement. “However, we take the report and the issues it identifies very seriously, particularly those that involve academic integrity and the overall well-being of student-athletes.”

Syracuse basketball generated $29.8 million in revenue during fiscal 2014, the second-most in college basketball, according to data that schools submit to the U.S. Department of Education. Its $16 million profit in basketball ranked third. The program also led the NCAA in attendance.

Syracuse Investigation

The violations began in 2001 and were reported to the school in 2007, according to a timeline provided by the NCAA. Syracuse started investigating immediately, submitted a report to the NCAA in 2010 and has worked with the Indianapolis-based organization since.

When Syracuse announced its ban last month, Syverud said the investigative process was “exhaustive.” He said Friday that hundreds of thousands of documents were reviewed and hundreds of interviews were conducted.

“The NCAA’s investigation of Syracuse University has taken longer than any other investigation in NCAA history,” he said.

The report from the NCAA’s division I committee on infractions said the university failed to exercise proper control over its athletic department and “used deficient monitoring systems,” which allowed the violations to occur undetected for a number of years.

“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 committee said in an e-mailed release.

Coach Boeheim

Boeheim specifically “did not promote an atmosphere of compliance,” nor did he monitor the activities of those who report to him, according to the NCAA. The academic violations, for example, included two unidentified staff members who completed coursework for a student.

Syverud said that, while the private school agreed with the individual violations found by the NCAA, it disagreed with any findings of a department-wide failure to maintain institutional control or culpability on Boeheim’s part.

“The university is considering whether it will appeal certain portions of the decision,” he said.

Syracuse benefited from the fact that violations took place before the NCAA’s 2012 revision of its violations punishment. Under the new structure, Boeheim could have faced a one-year ban and the school could have been hit a lot harder, according to Britton Banowsky, commissioner of Conference USA and member of the infractions committee.

‘Serious Breach’

“This is a level one case, serious breach, aggravated circumstances,” Banowsky said in a conference call with reporters. “So they’d be looking at a minimum of six years’ probation, a minimum of two years postseason ban, a minimum of 25 percent scholarship cuts, which could go to much more.”

Boeheim led Syracuse to its only national title in 2003. This year’s team, which has one game left because of the self-imposed ban, is 19-12 and unranked.

His suspension will be for the first nine games of next year’s ACC schedule. He is allowed to appeal the ban and Syverud said the university would support him should he take that step.

The NCAA ruling also vacated some wins from five basketball seasons starting with the year after the 2003 title. Boeheim is No. 2 on college basketball’s active all-time wins list.

The Syracuse football team was also named in the NCAA’s discipline. The ruling vacated some football wins in the 2004, 2005 and 2006 seasons.

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