Explainers

The impact of the NCAA sanctions on the Syracuse men’s basketball team, explained

Daily Orange File Photo

Jim Boeheim and the Orange are still feeling the impacts of NCAA sanctions that were handed out in March of 2015.

UPDATED: Jan. 14, 2017 at 12:20 p.m.

From the view of the Carrier Dome stands, evidence of NCAA sanctions is nowhere to be seen. Up in the stadium rafters are the same banners and acknowledgements, and on the court is the same basketball team with its long-standing head coach.

But don’t get it twisted. Despite any physical remnants of the NCAA’s punishments, the sanctions levied against Syracuse men’s basketball permanently altered the past, present and future of the program. Here’s an explanation of the NCAA’s sanctions, SU’s appeal and more.

The initial release

 More than seven years after Syracuse first self-reported possible violations in 2007, the NCAA finally released a 94-page report on March 6, 2015, detailing the findings of its investigation into Syracuse Athletics. The timeline of violations began in 2001. Among the NCAA’s revelations include Syracuse breaking its own drug policy, improper academic benefits and a “lack of institutional control” over the athletic department. In addition, there were several incidents of student-athletes receiving impermissible benefits from assistants and tutors.

In the NCAA’s report, it provided 12 sections of “analysis” for each of the violations committed by Syracuse. A breakdown of violations A-D can be found here. Go here for a breakdown of violations E-H and read this for a breakdown of violations I-L.

The NCAA then punished Syracuse by taking away three scholarships in each of the next four seasons (2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, 2018-19). Wins were vacated from the 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, a sum later discovered to be 101 removed wins. The program was put on five years of probation, and head coach Jim Boeheim was suspended for the first nine games of Atlantic Coast Conference play in 2015-16.

In anticipation of the NCAA’s report and punishments, Syracuse self-imposed a postseason ban for the 2014-15 season on Feb. 4, 2015. An NCAA representative later said the self-imposed ban had no bearing on the eventual punishments levied against SU.

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Lucy Naland | Presentation Director

Syracuse’s appeal

After the NCAA’s report was published, Syracuse had 15 days to appeal any part of the NCAA’s punishments. At some point in that timeframe, SU appealed the reduction of 12 scholarships over four seasons, the vacations of wins across five seasons and asked for the return of money that the school received for taking part in the 2011, 2012 and 2013 NCAA Tournaments.

Representatives from the NCAA’s appeals committee and Syracuse University met for an oral argument on Aug. 3, 2015, and the NCAA released the appeal results on Nov. 25, 2015. Syracuse ultimately won back four scholarships — one each year — and received back $1.23 million improperly forfeited from the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Citing a 2012 ruling against Georgia Tech, the NCAA ruled it “did not abuse its discretion” in vacating 101 wins from Syracuse and Boeheim’s record.

On Dec. 3, 2015, the NCAA denied Boeheim’s individual appeal of a nine-game suspension. But instead of forcing the head coach to miss the first nine conference games, Boeheim was allowed to start serving his suspension immediately, beginning Dec. 5, 2015, against Georgetown. Head-coach designate and lead assistant Mike Hopkins assumed Boeheim’s role temporarily.

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Bryan Cereijo | Staff Photographer

Scholarship reductions further explained

After the appeal results were announced, Syracuse was left without eight scholarships —instead of 12 — across four seasons. Since the appeal results were announced during the 2015-16 season, Syracuse constructed its roster under the assumption it would still be without three scholarships. So when the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee announced SU would lose only eight scholarships through four years, Syracuse was allowed to count its three unused scholarships toward the eight total that the program will be without.

Instead of losing two scholarships in each season from 2015-16 to 2018-19, Syracuse was allowed to lose three scholarships in 2015-16, two in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons and only one scholarship lost for the 2018-19 season.

Check out this story for a further explanation about why the NCAA returned four scholarships to Syracuse after the school’s appeal.

Vacation of wins further explained

 Despite the NCAA announcing Syracuse would vacate wins from the 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons, it wasn’t confirmed until Oct. 17, 2016, that the school would vacate every win from the 2005-06 and 2011-12 seasons. At the time, that dropped Boeheim’s win total to 884.

SU won the 2005-06 Big East tournament and went 34-3 in 2011-12. None of that is now reflected in the official record book, which reads the win-loss totals for Syracuse like this:

Updated yearly records following vacated wins:

2004-05: 12-7 (15 vacated, 27-7 previously)
2005-06: 0-12 (23 vacated, 23-12 previously)
2006-07: 2-11 (22 vacated, 24-11 previously)
2010-11: 20-8 (seven vacated, 27-8 previously)
2011-12: 0-3 (34 vacated, 34-3 previously)

In Syracuse’s 2016-17 media guide, SU acknowledged Terrence Roberts, Billy Edelin, Dion Waiters, Fab Melo and Mookie Jones as the players involved in violations that led the school to vacate 101 wins. Roberts and Edelin were involved in the 60 wins vacated from 2004-07 due to receiving impermissible financial benefits. Waiters, Melo and Jones’ involvement in academic issues led to 41 wins vacated from 2010-12.

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Daily Orange File Photo

Athletic department shake-up

 The ripple effects of the NCAA sanctions led to a campus-wide email sent out by Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud, in which it was announced that Director of Athletics Daryl Gross would step down and Boeheim would retire following the 2017-18 season.

Gross was reassigned to vice president, special assistant to the chancellor. He served as an adjunct sport management professor in the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics before taking a job at California State University, Los Angeles last year.

Boeheim spoke for nearly an hour about his decision to step down after three more seasons, and expressed displeasure about the NCAA’s findings.

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, Jim Boeheim was misnamed in the caption for the dominant photo. The Daily Orange regrets this error.

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