Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim has been suspended for nine ACC games and his program has been stripped of three scholarships for each of the next four years, among other sanctions released Friday by the NCAA.
The findings released Friday – as part of a longtime NCAA probe – also placed the basketball and football programs on five-year probation periods, stripped 108 wins from the two programs, and fined the school $500 for every game in which an ineligible player was allowed to participate. The NCAA also accepted Syracuse’s one-year postseason ban and agreed to a statute of limitations that would only strip wins dating to May 2003. The Syracuse basketball program captured its last national title under Boeheim in April 2003.
The report stated that “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.”
“Few facts of the case were in dispute, and most of the allegations were not refuted,” said Britton Banowsky, the chair of the NCAA’s infractions committee. “… Many of these violations really go to the core values of the NCAA and higher education.”
Because the balance of the violations occurred prior to the NCAA adopting new infractions guidelines, Syracuse was subject to less severe penalties than if the same rules were broken now. Under the new infrastructure, Syracuse would have been subject to minimums such as a six-year probation, two-year postseason ban, forfeiture of 25 percent of its scholarships and at least a half-season ban for Boeheim.
Among the violations found included:
• Academic misconduct, including academic support members who were posing as athletes in emails with professors and doing coursework.
• Extra benefits, including $8,000 in cash from a booster to three football players and two basketball players for volunteering at the YMCA.
• Failure to follow drug testing policy, including allowing players who failed drug tests to continue playing in games from 2001-09 in the basketball program.
• Impermissible booster activity.
The report also stated that “the other violations found included impermissible academic assistance and services, the head basketball coach’s failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance and monitor his staff, and the school’s lack of control over its athletics program.”
The NCAA concluded its investigation into Syracuse athletics with an infractions hearing in October. The probe began in 2007 when Syracuse self-reported some violations, but then stretched on as NCAA enforcement began finding additional issues and asked for more time to investigate.
Banowsky addressed the eight-year investigation by essentially criticizing the NCAA’s enforcement arm, stating: “The investigation went on for an extreme and excessive amount of time. … It’s unacceptable for our membership to have cases that drag on this long.”
In 2012, Yahoo Sports reported the basketball program had repeatedly violated its own drug policies over a decade-long span, playing athletes who should have been deemed ineligible for competition. Boeheim initially denied any knowledge of such NCAA issues, but later said the school had self-reported some violations to the association.
The Yahoo Sports report detailed a failure to count failed drug tests and incur suspensions with at least 10 players, dating to 2001 and including the team’s 2002-03 national championship season.
Last month, the school self-imposed a postseason ban on the basketball program this season, in anticipation of the forthcoming NCAA findings. Syracuse also stated that infractions issues had occurred “years ago,” with the exception of issues that also touched the basketball program from 2010-12 – a span in which center Fab Melo was suspended for academic reasons.
“I am very disappointed that our basketball team will miss the opportunity to play in the postseason this year,” Boeheim said in the release following the ban. “However, I supported this decision and I believe the University is doing the right thing by acknowledging that past mistakes occurred. Our players have faced adversity and challenges before. I know they will rise to this challenge by keeping our program strong and continuing to make our University proud.”