Jim Boeheim wins his 1,000th game, but neither he nor Syracuse can officially celebrate it

One thousand teams have now taken the court against Jim Boeheim and Syracuse and lost. But if you watched No. 1,000, a 66-62 Syracuse upset of No. 9 Virginia, without the aid of a TV broadcast, you’d have had no idea.

Until the final horn that is. Those in attendance surely knew the significance as they rose to their feet during Syracuse’s second half comeback, as they roared with approval at every Orange bucket and every Cavaliers miss. They surely recognized the accomplishment as completely legitimate. And they made sure others recognized as they streamed out onto the Carrier Dome court to commemorate the occasion.

Jim Boeheim knows Saturday’s upset of Virginia was his 1,000th win, even if he can’t publicly celebrate it. (Getty)
Jim Boeheim knows Saturday’s upset of Virginia was his 1,000th win, even if he can’t publicly celebrate it. (Getty)

The NCAA, however, doesn’t, and won’t. Boeheim and Syracuse were forced to vacate 101 wins because of academic fraud and a failure to enforce drug policies, among other infractions.

The program, therefore, has been barred from any public celebration or acknowledgement of Boeheim’s 1,000th win. Earlier this week, Bud Poliquin of The Syracuse Post-Standard tried to get Boeheim to talk about the accomplishment. He wouldn’t. He couldn’t. Here’s the opening exchange between reporter and legendary head coach, via

Poliquin: “I want to talk about what’s coming up.”

Boeheim: “There’s nothing coming up. There’s nothing coming up.”

Poliquin: “You’re going to win your 1,000th game.”

Boeheim: “Not according to that [pointing to a press guide]. So I’m not discussing it. I’m not. There’s nothing to discuss. It’s not happening. The NCAA has told us it’s not happening. The NCAA has told us that we can’t talk about it and we can’t do anything. It’s not happening. I can’t talk about something that’s not happening. I cannot talk about anything. Look at the record books. There are no wins. The wins are not there.”

Boeheim knows he has won 1,000 games. He also knows that others know. He coached the final seconds Saturday as if it were any other game, walked over to shake Tony Bennett’s hand as if it were any other win. But the fans who rushed the floor didn’t just celebrate a win over a top-10 team. They celebrated No. 1,000, asterisk be damned.


And Boeheim acknowledge the weird dynamic in his postgame interview. “I’ve been a part of 1,000 wins here,” he told ESPN’s broadcast. “I may not have that number in the record book, but I’ve been here for 1,000.”

Then he exited stage left with a two-handed triumphant wave to the crowd. In a way, the unofficial celebration was more emotional than any official one could have been, because it was so emotionally defiant. Syracuse fans know what they’ve seen with their own two eyes. No record book can convince them otherwise.

If there were a storybook way to get No. 1,000, this might have been it too. Boeheim called it “maybe one of our best wins ever.”

Just over 10 months after Syracuse stormed back from a 16-point second-half deficit to beat Virginia in the Elite Eight, the Orange trailed by 12 at halftime, 34-22. Then narrative took over. Tyus Battle and Andrew White III, who scored 23 points each, led Boeheim’s team on a 19-2 run to open the half. The Orange zone was suffocating, and they held off the Cavaliers down the stretch.

The win also vaults Syracuse right into the thick of the NCAA tournament bubble battle. The Orange have now won four straight, and are, stunningly, 7-4 in the ACC. They’re only a game back of Virginia, who is now 7-3 in the conference, and with two wins over ranked teams among the four in a row, Syracuse looks to have turned a corner, just as surely as their coach looks to have reached quadruple digits.