Orange Watch: How long until Syracuse athletics wakes up from its NCAA nightmare?

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Under the glare of the NCAA, does Jim Boeheim dare venture near a March Madness TV analyst job?

Item: Unfortunately, the 2014-15 academic and athletic calendars won’t go down as one of the best on record in the long history of Syracuse University.

Wasn’t it just in last week’s edition that we were talking about 34 victories for Jim Boeheim to reach 1000 for his career, likely occurring during the 2016-17 season?

Two days later, the NCAA bombshell, mismanaged to be released at 12:00 p.m. ET on a Friday before the final big weekend of the college basketball regular season after almost four and a half months since the university’s October hearing, followed by the next afternoon’s mismanaged postgame press conference at PNC Arena in Raleigh after the season-closeout, 14 point defeat to N.C. State, and suddenly the Orange coach is now 142 wins away from 1000.

Instead of being absent from what these Orange Watch eyes (and others) believe is Boeheim’s first post game media conference no-show in 39 seasons besides the games he missed in 2001 while recuperating from prostate surgery, there should have been an organized agenda presented to the media over guidelines on questioning Boeheim to be restricted to the game or team, for example, otherwise there would be an eliciting of a stern “no comment.” That would have sufficed as the proper middle ground to at least let the SU coach be visible publicly, and out of caution a university emissary could have been seated inconspicuously nearby in case there was another “at Pittsburgh” moment.

» Related: Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, Syracuse’s Rakeem Christmas headline TJO’s All-ACC Awards

One positive did come from Boeheim’s Raleigh absence, it was a minor step along the way of the eventual public transition to Mike Hopkins taking over the program as he filled in admirably for his boss and mentor in reviewing the season’s 13th loss, and that continued when Hop took center stage a night later with an emotional address to the 700 faithful attending the annual Hardwood Club event Sunday at the OnCenter, where Boeheim also spoke defiantly about not leaving the wounded ship amidst the current NCAA predicament, punctuating the evening with a standing ovation.

After covering Syracuse basketball for 40 seasons, the most disturbing aspect of the entire NCAA episode is the fact that the organization has now come down twice on the basketball program during the Boeheim reign. First, the recruiting improprieties unveiled in the 1990 book “Raw Recruits” and further detailed by the Post-Standard newspaper spotlighting the wheeling and dealing of New York City street agent Rob Johnson steering players upstate and leading to the 1993 post season banishment, and now the myriad of stunning NCAA details including how senior athletic department management led by AD Daryl Gross, discussed ways to keep Fab Melo eligible during the dizzyingly ascent atop the polls during the one loss 2012 regular season.

Isn’t that the kind of winning-at-all-costs discussion that happens at other major college powers, not named Syracuse? Even in the big business, multi-million dollar world of ACC athletics, it is
simply unfathomable to think that the experienced administrators running the show at Manley Field House could put the No. 1 poll ranking in front of any student’s welfare.

It also figures to be the lighting rod that forges a needed change in athletic department leadership and direction heading into the meat of Chancellor Syverud’s tenure running the school, when no doubt he leads the Board of Trustees in an appeal of the NCAA ruling, seeking a reduction in the penalties, and the beginning of a long healing process.

It can’t come soon enough.

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Brad Bierman

About Brad Bierman

Now in his fifth decade of covering SU sports, Brad was sports director of WSYR radio for eight years into the early 1990s, then wrote the Orange Watch column for The Big Orange/The Juice print publication for 18 years. A Syracuse University graduate, Brad currently runs his own media consulting business in the Philadelphia suburbs. Follow him on Twitter @BradBierman.
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