Syracuse Orange head men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim said on Thursday he will appeal the NCAA's ruling on his basketball program -- his nine-game suspension, the cancellation of 12 scholarships and the vacating of 108 wins was a result of the the NCAA's Committee on Infractions investigation of the university's athletic programs.
Jim Boeheim is appealing the NCAA ruling on the Syracuse Orange men's basketball program.
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More specifically, Syracuse.com's Mike Waters says Boeheim plans to appeal the nine-game suspension the NCAA imposed on him two weeks ago. Moreover, the university will appeal the NCAA's cancellation of its 12 scholarships.
Boeheim told the media on Thursday the NCAA disregarded his effort to make his players comply with the rules, per Waters:
"I want to stress again that I take responsibility for the violation of NCAA rules that occurred within the basketball program. However, I believe my effort to promote an atmosphere of compliance in the men's basketball program was disregarded by the enforcement staff and the committee on infractions.
"This isn't a coach saying we do a good job. This is a coach saying we do a good job and here are the facts."
Just a day before the press conference, Syracuse officials announced Boeheim will retire after three more seasons, per a separate update from Waters. It is the first time Boeheim and his bosses have specified a timeline for his retirement.
According to a March 19 ESPN update, the Orange are grooming long-time Syracuse men's basketball assistant coach and former player Mike Hopkins to succeed Boeheim. "I believe Mike Hopkins will be a great coach, and I fervently hope that he is the coach here," Boeheim quipped.
Syracuse chancellor Kent Syverud also announced on Wednesday that athletics director Daryl Gross will now be his vice president and special consultant, per Waters.
When Boeheim took the podium at 10 a.m. ET on Thursday, Waters says he did talk about his impending retirement, but focused more on the NCAA's report. Gross did not attend the press conference.
Boeheim refuted the NCAA's notion that he did not monitor his team's activities, per ESPN:
"Although the infractions report does not find that I had personal involvement in any violations of NCAA rules, the Committee on Infractions has asserted that for the past 10 years, I did not promote an atmosphere of compliance with the men's basketball program, and I did not monitor the activities regarding compliance of those within the program.
"This could not be further from the truth. This is far from a program where student-athletes freely committed academic fraud. I believe the penalty is unduly harsh."
The NCAA suspended Boeheim for nine ACC games, canceled 12 scholarships and ordered 108 wins of the Orange's basketball program and 11 wins of their football program be vacated on March 6 as a result of its investigation of Syracuse's athletic programs, per ESPN. The university also received a five-year probation.
The NCAA revealed in its 94-page report that Syracuse staff members corresponded directly with professors from student-athletes' email accounts regarding their course work in order to maintain their eligibility for their respective athletic programs, per ESPN.
The NCAA's investigation also made mention of former Syracuse Orange basketball player Fab Melo, whom the university ruled ineligible prior to the start of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Melo had asked one of his professors to change his grade. The ESPN update says Boeheim feels "Melo's eligibility was mischaracterized because people didn't think he could write the petition."
Boeheim even mentions racism could be involved, per ESPN:
"Syracuse has never admitted somebody here in the basketball program since I've been here that could not do the work, that was not qualified. I think there's a little racism involved when they start talking about not taking this guy or that guy, he's from a foreign country. We shouldn't have foreign students at Syracuse University?"
The ESPN report also mentions the NCAA claims Boeheim's basketball staff encouraged students to "develop relationships with a booster." This booster allegedly handed out $8,000 in improper payments to five Syracuse athletes at a local YMCA. He also allegedly paid some of Boeheim's staff members for helping out during YMCA activities.
All in all, the NCAA claims Syracuse's violations, which also include a failure to comply with its drug-testing policy, date back to 2001. The Syracuse basketball program had already imposed a postseason ban on itself for this year's NCAA Tournament, per ESPN.
Boeheim told the media throng on Thursday he's taking responsibility for the actions of his subordinates, per ESPN:
"I'll take the punishment. Today what's important is to handle what I have to do here. I am 70 years old. It's obvious there's a time frame for me as head coach. I feel that three years is right for me. Three years is probably longer than I was planning...
"There's no way I would ever run away from an investigation in process. This investigation has made it imperative. This is the focus of my life."
For her part, Boeheim's wife, Juli, told Syracuse.com's Donna Ditota on March 19 her husband remains unfazed despite the controversy surrounding him:
"This is his heart. People don't realize why he's so passionate, why he gets so animated. It's because you're messing with his heart and soul. I don't think people realize how much it is in him.
"He hasn't cried, he hasn't felt sorry for himself, he hasn't ranted and raved. He has been inspired and truly motivated. The guy is a warrior."
Boeheim has been the Orange's head men's basketball coach since 1976. He has amassed a 966-333 (.744) win-loss record and led Syracuse to the 2003 national title and four NCAA Final Four appearances, per Basketball-Reference.com.
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