The NCAA dropped its proverbial hammer on the Syracuse Orange on Friday, sanctioning the university's athletic department for infractions discovered over a 10-year investigation.
From a Boston College perspective, you might not really know what to feel, and that's okay. That's where we come in, helping you understand how dumb the athletic department really is up in the greater New York City area (wait...they're in western New York? What's this "New York's College Team" stuff then?).
Anyhoo, let's get started.
Hey Dan, what exactly did Syracuse get caught doing?
A laundry list of stuff. There's nearly 100 pages of stuff the NCAA outlined, so if I attempted to get into everything here, I'd quickly become tl;dr. Just know that the NCAA didn't buy that Fab Melo flunked out of the NCAA Tournament because he didn't speak English.
The violations dated back to 2001 and included academic dishonesty, extra benefits, a failure to follow a drug-testing policy, impermissible booster activity, and a lack of institutional control. That last one kind of goes without saying.
Who's to blame in this whole thing?
The brunt of the blame falls on basketball coach Jim Boeheim, and it probably should, to be honest. While the NCAA really gets trigger happy on stuff like this because of all the times they've been wrong or made to look foolish, they finally brought the pain to a program begging to be caught.
Jim Boeheim ran one of the loosest programs in the nation, one of plausible deniability with the whole "don't ask, don't tell" method of following rules. I don't think Boeheim knew the majority of the violations occurred, but there's something to be said for a coach who turns that blind of an eye to his athletes. The NCAA issued him a nine-game suspension because they pretty much said he should never have been running a program the way he had been. The rules violations were so flagrant, there's almost no way he could've not known unless he chose to ignore everything. Lucky for us, that's exactly what he did.
The basketball program bears the majority of the blame, but the football program also shares in this ordeal. Impermissible benefits and cheating are always surefire ways to run afoul of the NCAA, and if the basketball team was run that loose, the football team probably shouldn't have been. Then again, it is what it is.
Brian outlined the penalties, but what should we think about them?
Let's take them one-by-one.
Five years of probation from March 6, 2015 through March 5, 2020
Unless Syracuse gets bagged doing something while on probation, I wouldn't really care about this. Probation is only there to eventually qualify a team for the so-called "death penalty," which is a repeat offenders violation for teams already serving time.
Vacation of all wins in which ineligible men's basketball students played in 2004-2005, 2005-2006, 2006-2007, 2010-2011, and 2011-2012 and ineligible football students played in 2004-2005, 2005-2006, and 2006-2007
Bear in mind that this time period came when BC was leaving the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference. As a result, the majority of us probably shouldn't care, except for one major stain - a 43-17 win at sold-out Alumni Stadium to end the 2004 football season.
For those of you who don't know what "The Diamond Ferri Game" stands for, consider this. In 2004, Miami and Virginia Tech departed the Big East for the ACC. It left the race for the Big East championship wide open between everyone else. In their final year in the league, it meant a strong Boston College team could finally make the jump since the two teams standing in their way from winning the league were already gone.
Having only lost to Wake Forest and Pittsburgh, the Eagles entered their final game of the season in '04 ranked 19th in the nation and needing literally only a win in order to clinch the Big East championship. With it would be a BCS berth and a trip to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. All BC had to do was beat Syracuse.'
After rushing for 107 yards and a touchdown, starting running back Damien Rhodes, who was playing in place of already-injured Walter Reyes, went down with a leg injury. In his place stepped Everett, MA native Diamond Ferri, a high school all-everything who was playing safety for the Orange. Ferri ran for 141 yards and two touchdowns, returned an interception of Matt Ryan (playing in place of injured starter Paul Peterson) 44 yards for a touchdown, and I'm pretty sure ran back punts too. Syracuse destroyed BC, 43-17, and BC lost its BCS bowl bid on the way out of the league.
Since Syracuse football's been, well, shitty for the past decade, that's literally all they had to hold onto. Whenever there's a Boston College comment, Ferri came up. Ferri, a Boston native who BC turned down, got his revenge. Well, now it never happened. So joke's on you!
Side bar - you were cheating to keep those guys eligible during seasons in which you went like 1-10 and 4-8. At least if you're going to cheat, I mean, REALLY GUYS?!?!?!?!
Suspension of Jim Boeheim from the first nine conference games of 2015-2016
This is like a complete 180-degree turn from how Florida State suspended Jameis Winston for stealing crab legs. The Seminoles suspended their prized quarterback from the baseball program, where he was hardly the team's best player. The NCAA is suspending Boeheim from being a head coach for the first nine conference games, meaning he can coach against Southwest Ontario State A&M but can't come out for the Duke or North Carolina games.
Reduction of men's basketball scholarships by three for 2015-2016, 2016-2017, 2017-2018, and 2018-2019. If Syracuse already has a full scholarship roster for 2015-2016, the school may begin the four-year penalty with 2016-2017
Syracuse won't have a full roster of players not impacted by the scholarship reduction until either 2023 or 2024. While three scholarships doesn't seem like a lot, it translates to roughly one third the value of a basketball team. That's the equivalent of around 28 scholarships in football. You reduce that number over the span of four years in a league as competitive as the ACC, and you're looking at some lean years upcoming for the Orange.
Jim Boeheim is already 70 years old. By the time his roster will be full, he'll be pushing 80. I highly doubt he can afford to go through what's going to amount to two full recruiting cycles until he's going to win another national championship, meaning he either has to get super lucky or we've seen the end of his career.
Reduction in the number of permissible off-campus recruiters from four to two during June 1, 2015 through May 31, 2017
Hey at least they can save money on travel.
The panel also accepted the school's self-imposed postseason ban for the 2014-2015 season, but noted that self-imposition of penalties after the conclusion of infractions hearings does not influence the outcome
I'm going to give you a scenario:
When I was wedding planning with Mrs. New Guy, we met with our vendors and whatnot; every time we did, I feel like I spent another $1,500 here or another $750 there. After one of our meetings, I realized I'd run up a credit card bill that was going to hamstring me for months. Upset, she suggested we stop for lunch on the way home. She picked up the tab for lunch, and we went home.
Over the next five years, I'm going to be paying off my credit card's thousands of dollars. She spent like $40-$50 on lunch. That you did that was great, but it has no bearing on how upset I can get thinking about how much money I spent on the damn wedding.
Just kidding guys. I loved my wedding and everything about it. But seriously...she's going to read this and I'm winding up in divorce court.