The presence of Syracuse in the NCAA’s Final Four has brought up an unpleasant reminder for Jim Boeheim.
The Syracuse coach confronted the not-so-little matter of whether he is running a dirty program Monday in a press conference involving this weekend’s four coaches.
“Things can happen in a program. That doesn’t mean it’s something dirty,” he said (via the New York Daily News). “It just means something happened that shouldn’t have happened, and you try to correct it. You face your punishment and you move on. That’s what you do.”
Last March, Boeheim and the program he has been part of since 1966 were forced to vacate 108 wins for violations that included academic misconduct, extra benefits to players, booster misconduct, and failure to follow drug-test policy. In addition, there were lost scholarships over the next four years and Boeheim was suspended nine conference games, in which the team went 4-5 this season. Syracuse came back to finish 9-9 in the conference and 23-13 overall.
“These players weren’t involved in anything,” Boeheim said. “They’re concerned about playing basketball. They are focused on our season. They’ve been consistent from Day One. We started out really great. We struggled a little bit. We got great again. We struggled a little bit again. Now we’re playing great again.”
Boeheim wasn’t the only Final Four coach forced to address problems in his program. North Carolina is under investigation for academic violations involving basketball and other sports over nearly 20 years. Like Boeheim, Coach Roy Williams stressed that any transgressions were in the past.
“There were mistakes made — we’ve said that freely and we’re discouraged about it. We’re sad about it,” Coach Roy Williams told reporters (via Chron.com). “You can put any description there you want, but the team — we’ve really tried to focus on playing basketball.”
On Saturday night, one of the teams will advance to the national championship game.