The Spanish Inquisition, Bill Gates and Derek Jeter were all given mentions at various times during Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim’s one-plus hour press conference addressing the NCAA sanctions and his retirement on Thursday morning.
The press conference came on the heels of Boeheim announcing that he would be retiring in three years earlier in the week. Boeheim had to forfeit 108 wins and was suspended for nine ACC games next season as a result of a nearly decade-long NCAA investigation.
While Boeheim admitted some responsibility in the sanctions levied against Syracuse, he also vehemently denied the NCAA Infraction Committee’s ruling that he “did not promote an atmosphere of compliance within the men’s basketball program.”
Boeheim added that he made himself readily available to the NCAA enforcement staff to cooperate when the allegations were surfacing.
“I believe that my effort to promote an atmosphere of compliance with the men’s basketball program was disregarded by the enforcement staff and the committee on infractions,” Boeheim said. “That ultimately resulted in my suspension for the first nine ACC games of the 2015-16 season.”
Boeheim also addresssed academic violations involving former center Fab Melo. The NCAA report stated that Melo received a better grade for a class he had already completed when he was allowed to submit a new paper that deal with his life experiences. Boeheim denied he had anything to do with the grade change.
“The former director of basketball operations took it upon himself to provide impermissible academic assistance,” Boeheim said. “I called no one. I didn’t call a soul. That’s not my job. I don’t interfere in academics.”
The 10-page paper on this player, Boeheim added, was on Melo’s, own life and not a difficult topic like “the Spanish Inquisition.”
“You get your degree because you will need that degree someday,” Boeheim said. “Unless your name is Bill Gates. You will need that degree. And that’s what we stress.”
The embattled coach also addressed impermissible benefits from a YMCA employee and SU’s internal drug policy. The YMCA employee was vetted by the Office of Athletic Compliance and given the rules, so Boeheim said he had no reason to believe there would be any wrongdoing. Boeheim went on to say that he had no role in monitoring and administering the drug policies. Since the NCAA doesn’t require a drug policy, the penalties imposed by the NCAA were “unduly harsh.”
Boeheim reaffirmed his retirement timeline at three years, but also said he could retire at the end of next season if he felt he was no longer effective. When asked about his farewell, he laughed.
“I’m not Derek Jeter. There will be no farewell tour,” Boeheim said. “When I go into an arena and they cheer for me, I’ll know it’s time.”