JOHN KEKIS, AP Sports Writer
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Jim Boeheim has become used to the spotlight in his long career at Syracuse. It’s awfully bright right now — for all the wrong reasons.
Boeheim and his men’s basketball program took another hit on Friday from the NCAA, which suspended the Hall of Fame coach for nine league games next year and outlined a decade-long series of violations that included academic misconduct, improper benefits, and drug-policy failures.
The governing body of college sports said in a report that the school lost control of its athletic department and placed the Orange on probation for five years for breaking with the “most fundamental core values of the NCAA.”
The bulk of the violations concerned athletic department officials interfering with academics and making sure star players stayed eligible.
“The behavior in this case, which placed the desire to achieve success on the basketball court over academic integrity, demonstrated clearly misplaced institutional priorities,” the NCAA said.
The basketball team must vacate wins in which ineligible players participated. Those players competed during five seasons: 2004-2007 and 2010-2012.
Boeheim, the second-winningest coach in Division I history with 966 victories, is 70 years old and has coached at Syracuse for 39 years, having played at the school as well.
Punishment includes financial penalties, reduction of basketball scholarships, and recruiting restrictions for two years. Boeheim’s suspension will sideline him for half the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.
The investigation also revealed violations by the football program and women’s basketball.
Here are five things to know as Syracuse prepares to play Saturday at North Carolina State, the Orange’s final game of the year because of a self-imposed postseason ban issued last month by university Chancellor Kent Syverud.
GOT OFF EASY: Britton Banowsky, chief hearing officer for the NCAA, said in a teleconference after the report was released that because most of the violations occurred before the NCAA installed a new penalty structure last year, Syracuse and Boeheim won’t have to face more severe punishment. That could have included a two-year postseason ban for the team and a season-long suspension for the coach.
NOT SO CONTRITE: Boeheim, whose program was banned from the 1993 NCAA Tournament for recruiting violations, said in a statement released by the university that he was relieved the investigation was over. He acknowledged that violations occurred, but said he was disappointed with the findings and conclusions reached by the committee.
“The committee chose to ignore the efforts which I have undertaken over the past 37 years to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the men’s basketball program,” Boeheim said. “Instead, they chose to focus on the rogue and secretive actions of a former employee of the local YMCA and my former director of basketball operations in order to impose an unprecedented series of penalties upon the university and the men’s basketball program.”
Boeheim also said he demanded “academic excellence” from his players.
VERY APPEALING: Syverud said the school does not agree with certain aspects of the ruling and is considering a possible challenge. Syverud said Boeheim may choose to appeal the part of the decision that affects him personally. “Should he decide to do so, we would support him in this step,” Syverud said in a statement.
RECRUITING HIT: The NCAA penalties included the reduction of three men’s basketball scholarships a year for four years and recruiting restrictions will be enforced for two years.
Boeheim has what is regarded as the best recruiting class in his long tenure coming in the fall. In its decision, the NCAA indicated that Syracuse can delay the scholarship reductions by one year in the case of any student-athletes that have a financial agreement with the university.
Syracuse loses only Rakeem Christmas from this year’s team and is at the 13-scholarship limit for 2015-16.
MIDDLING MAN: The NCAA said several violations involved students and staff. The report added that academic violations stemmed from the director of basketball operations, who was hand-picked by Boeheim to address academic matters and ended up violating academic integrity.
“The rule’s pretty clear,” Banowsky said. “The head coach has a duty to monitor activities in his program. Jim Boeheim did dispute that he should be held accountable. There was controversy over that. It (the charge) was not effectively rebutted at all.”
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