Yahoo! Report Raises Questions At Syracuse

Posted by mlemaire on March 6th, 2012

Still reeling from the Bernie Fine scandal that threatened to rock the program earlier in the season and on the eve of the Big East Tournament, the investigative team at Yahoo! Sports dropped this bombshell on the Syracuse basketball program Monday and their off-the-court issues went from bad to worse. A three-month investigation into the Orange basketball program turned up four anonymous sources close to the team who revealed that, since 2001,  at least 10 basketball players tested positive for banned recreational substances and all of those players were still allowed to practice and play when they should have been ineligible.

It took only two hours for Syracuse to issue a statement in response to the report, which reads:

We self-reported issues with drug testing to the NCAA, and there is currently an ongoing inquiry. The inquiry does not involve any current SU student-athletes. To ensure the integrity of the ongoing process, we are unable to comment further at this time.

The NCAA quickly confirmed the report and said the university “appropriately” self-reported the violations and that their investigation is still ongoing.

One More Headache For Jim Boeheim

At first glance, it appears these allegations will have almost no impact on the current Orange, who are the #2 team in the country and the odds-on favorite to win the Big East Tournament that starts today in New York City. Syracuse already said that the investigation doesn’t involve any of their current players, and although it does seem like an unfortunately timed distraction for the Orange, they have already dealt with plenty of distractions this season and handled them admirably. If  the current players can learn that one of their most-trusted assistant coaches has been accused of sexual abuse and still win 30 games, then they can also cope with reported drug policy violations that none of them were involved in.

If the investigation does turn up multiple violations, the real damage will be done to the program itself and the legacy of its Hall of Fame coach, Jim Boeheim. The sources told Yahoo! that the potential violations could apply to seasons as far back as 2001, which includes the program’s 2002-03 national championship season. That means we are talking about hundreds of wins potentially impacted, including a national championship. We are also talking about further humiliation for a once-revered coach, especially if we learn that Boeheim knew all about these positive drug tests and still did nothing to punish his players.

Basketball players, like most college students, tend to cut loose when they arrive at school and find they have no one keeping a watchful eye on their behavior. If his players tested positive for banned recreational substances, Boeheim isn’t necessarily to blame. But if he failed to punish the offenders for their transgressions, then the bad example that UCLA coach Ben Howland was accused of setting last week pales in comparison to the message Boeheim is sending. For now, we have very few details and the accounts of anonymous sources. But it is telling that Syracuse has already admitted to self-reporting these violations and plenty of college basketball fans will be waiting with bated breath for the NCAA to release its findings on the matter.

Until then we are left to wonder what will happen to the legacy of a storied program and its legendary coach.

mlemaire (324 Posts)

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