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The Dagger

Jim Boeheim refuses to answer ESPN reporter’s question, calls him ‘disloyal’ and an ‘idiot’

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

More often than not, Jim Boeheim's infamous press conference tirades have come at the expense of the local media in Syracuse.

On Wednesday night, he demonstrated the national media is not immune to his scathing criticism.

During Boeheim's press conference following Syracuse's 66-58 loss to UConn Wednesday night in Hartford, ESPN.com's Andy Katz asked a seemingly routine question about the rivalry between the Huskies and Orange coming to an end. Boeheim refused to answer the question, telling Katz "I'll answer anybody's question but yours because you're an idiot and a disloyal person."

[Also: Is clock ticking on UNC-Duke rivalry?]

"There are a few other things I could add but I'm not going to go there," Boeheim added.

At first it was unclear what prompted Boeheim's tirade, but the Syracuse coach clarified in an interview with the Post-Standard on Thursday. Boeheim said it stemmed from the Nov. 2011 story Katz wrote regarding Boeheim's laissez-faire approach to running the program and the relationship between the Boeheim family and former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine.

When Katz was reporting that story, Boeheim said Katz interviewed him about the child molestation allegations against Fine. Boeheim said he told Katz he could only answer questions about the tournament Syracuse was participating in prior to the interview, but Katz repeatedly asked on camera about the Fine investigation.

“Two or three people in the room were so disgusted they walked out of the room. The producer came over and apologized afterward. And I told Katz right then and there, ‘Don’t talk to me. Do not try to talk to me again.’

“That’s what this is about. It’s about one thing: An interview that was supposed to be about a tournament we were playing in, and not about the (Bernie Fine) case. And he kept asking me about the case over and over and over again. He kept the camera on me, trying to get me to react ... and I just didn’t."

It's difficult to evaluate whether Katz went too far badgering Boeheim without seeing the exchange. Katz has a responsibility to ask Boeheim tough questions in that situation, but Boeheim also has the right to decline comment.

Regardless of whether Boeheim's anger is justifiable or not, he was out of line in the way he spoke to Katz during Wednesday night's exchange.

[Also: Kentucky's Nerlens Noel has torn ACL, out for season]

First, a reporter's primary obligation is to be truthful, not loyal. Secondly, the entire exchange was better suited for a closed-doors meeting rather than a public press conference.

It's no surprise that Boeheim would take this public, however, since that has been his approach in the past.

He tore into local media for highlighting that he had lost seven in a row to Rick Pitino following a loss to Louisville in Feb. 2011. He also lambasted student reporters at the Daily Orange after the 2006 Big East Tournament for calling Syracuse hero Gerry McNamara "overrated."

Boeheim's outbursts are always entertaining. Sometimes, though, they highlight the less appealing aspects of his personality.

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