Sports Ethics Minute: Syracuse University Blames NCAA for What?

Jim BoeheimThe dust is settling on the Syracuse basketball scandal. There’s a lot of posturing and finger-pointing as Jim Boeheim has gone from the bench to the hot seat. To all of the Syracuse fans out there; from the 90-year old alumni to the 1-year old whose great-grandpa just gave him a T-shirt, let me start with one strong point of agreement: Boeheim is a great coach.

He wins games and he gets the most out of the talent of his players. I get that part of it and part of me respects that. That is one reality.

Now let’s get on to some other realities. The NCAA has just come down on Syracuse like a ton of freakin’ bricks because Syracuse has played it loose with the rules. I will condense the NCAA’s ruling:

  1. The Syracuse basketball program has received 5 years of probation.
  2. The program gives up all wins in which they had ineligible players going back to 2004.
  3. They are getting $500 fines for every contest played by ineligible students.
  4. Syracuse must return all funds it received for going to the 2011, 2012 and 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
  5. The head basketball coach, Jim Boeheim is suspended for the first nine conference games of 2015-16.
  6. Reduction of men’s basketball scholarships by three for the next three academic years
  7. Reduction in the number of permissible off-campus recruiters from four to two during June 1, 2015 through May 31, 2017.
  8. The panel also accepted the school’s self-imposed postseason ban for the 2014-15 season, but noted that self-imposition of penalties… does not influence the outcome.

What are the reason behind these harsh penalties? According to the release by the NCAA (the italics are mine):

“The self-reported violations, dating back to 2001, include academic misconduct, extra benefits, the failure to follow its drug testing policy and impermissible booster activity. 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.”

Anyone noticing?

Let me throw in just one more quote for good measure. This is part of the response from Syracuse University; specifically Syracuse chancellor Kent Syverud:

“Some may not agree with Syracuse University’s positions on these important issues. However, we hope everyone will agree that eight years is too long for an investigation and that a more expeditious and less costly process would be beneficial to student-athletes, public confidence in the NCAA enforcement process, and major intercollegiate athletics in general.”

Seriously? You are complaining about the length of time of this investigation? Yes, eight years is a long time chancellor, but you are obfuscating far, far more important issues. Why not complain about the sports coats they wear at NCAA headquarters? How about the office plants? The color of the tile in the men’s rooms?

Your basketball program has all of the ear-marks of a program that is devoid of any ethical balance or direction. It is rudderless, sir. Whether the investigation took six months or eight years is irrelevant to the main conversation. Your program needs help. Now.

Perhaps – just perhaps – if those many years ago, someone had stepped up and tightened the ethical controls, none of this would have happened. In the end sir, always, always it is off-the-court or off-the-field behavior that brings down programs, coaches and athletes. They are whole sets of bad decisions that lead you to these consequences.

Sorry it took eight years, Syracuse, but does that mean this would have gone on for 18 years had nothing been done?

 

 

 

 

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