Academic Fraud at the Heart of Syracuse Violations

JimBoeheim

Jim Boeheim is one of college basketball’s iconic coaches. The Syracuse head coach will likely be the 2nd head coach in Division 1 history to reach the 1,000 wins mark in a few years. But this past week a major blow was dealt to Boeheim’s legacy. After a year’s long investigation, the NCAA ruled that under Boeheim’s watch, Syracuse committed academic fraud that were serious enough to levy a 9 game suspension upon the coach. The specifics of the fraud have yet to be released, but the penalty also included the docking of 12 scholarship and the loss of 108 wins. The wins losses is a blow for Boeheim, but baring any changes in the Coaches health, or a severe drop off in the play of Syracuse, the Coach will still reach the iconic 1,000 wins mark. One key thing that was not taken away due to the academic fraud infractions was the Orange’s 2003 National Championship victory, which remains the prized accomplishment of the program and the coach.
W
hile the penalties handed down by the NCAA were serious, the question remains, are the rewards for winning worth cutting corners? Boeheim was knocked from 2nd all-time in Division 1 wins to 6th, but will likely climb back up the ladder and finish his career in the 2nd spot. While the forfeit of 108 wins might cost him a chance to catch Duke’s Mike Kryzewski, it is not out of the question that these wins will be reinstated down the line. A similar situation occurred with Penn State’s Joe Paterno where the wins were awarded back to the coach after a certain period of time. The loss of scholarships will likely not affect the team at all. The current state of college basketball leaves teams only really requiring a few scholarships to field a competitive team, and cutting a schools’ overall scholarship number will only cost a kid at the end of the bench scholarship money. The Orange will be forbidden from making the ACC Tournament or NCAA Tournament this season, but is it fair to punish players who may have never committed any infractions, because former players cheated, or were encouraged to cheat?

Jim Boeheim will likely appeal these charges, and he may be exonerated. It is possible that under Boeheims leadership, the Orange maintained all of the academic requirements set by the NCAA. The point is not to single out what has been an incredibly exciting team to watch for over a decade. The point is, if the NCAA is going to maintain a certain set of rules for college coaches and programs, should they not ensure that they are punishing the perpetrators of those rules breaks and not kids further down the road? Syracuse will be sorely missed from the post season this year, and for their players it is a darn shame.

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