The NCAA dropped a firebomb on the Syracuse's athletic department on Friday with the conclusion of an investigation into academic and monetary impropriety around the football and basketball program that took over eight years to conduct. The damage includes 108 vacated wins by Jim Boeheim, a nine-game suspension for Boeheim and the loss of 12 scholarships over the next four seasons for the basketball program.
The shear scope of the investigation is difficult to comprehend. The NCAA is penalizing Syracuse for infractions that took place between 2001-02 and 2011-12. Syracuse tried to get itself off the hook by self-imposing a one-year postseason ban for the basketball program this season, but it wasn't nearly enough. This is one of the bigger NCAA sanctions ever and the effect on the Orange's past and present will reverberate for a long time.
With that in mind, it feels like it's time to unpack everything that went into the NCAA's punishment. There's a lot going on here.
1. Syracuse basically made up its own drug testing policy on the fly
Wow, Daryl Gross. "The athletics director said the department followed an 'unwritten policy' because written (drug) policy was confusing."— Michael Cohen (@Michael_Cohen13) March 6, 2015
Syracuse was nailed for a failure to comply with its own drug testing policy in the NCAA's report. Their excuse for that? They couldn't understand the language in their own policy!
To be fair, the details surrounding the drug testing portion of the sanctions are extremely vague. Regardless, it seems like Syracuse was playing by its own rules here ... even when the rules were their own in the first place.
2. The investigation conveniently ignores Syracuse's run to the national championship in 2003
NCAA says #Syracuse basketball went rogue from 2001-2012; lets Orange keep 02-03 title; criticizes itself for its own lengthy investigation.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) March 6, 2015
The best moment of Jim Boeheim's illustrious career came when he helped lead Syracuse to its only national championship in program history. That team was led by star freshman Carmelo Anthony, and capped its run with a close victory over Kansas in the national title game.
The investigation into Syracuse's improprieties started before the title run and ended well after it, but the year the Orange won it all seems to exist in a safe zone in the NCAA's eyes. Hakeem Warrick and Gerry McNamara and all of the other players that helped key that championship won't be figuratively turning over their rings.
More on Syracuse case
3. The director of basketball operations posed as players in emails to professors
Crazy detail in the Syracuse report. Director of basketball ops and others had players' passwords, would email their professors as them.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) March 6, 2015
One of the biggest points of the contention in the report focuses on an ineligible Syracuse basketball player from 2012 who used the help of the director of men's basketball operations and a team receptionist to get back on the court. Coursework was allegedly completed for the student-athlete in question, and apparently he wasn't even sending his own emails.
The 2011-12 team was knocked out in the Elite 8 by Ohio State. Fab Melo -- a sophomore center on that team who was drafted No. 22 overall by the Boston Celtics a few months later -- has previously been named in connection with the program's academic issues. Melo was suspended for the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
4. The NCAA was even harsher on Boeheim than it was on Penn State's Joe Paterno
NCAA vacates 108 wins from Jim Boeheim @ccarlsononSU reports. Joe Paterno had 111 vacated, then reinstated— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) March 6, 2015
This Syracuse scandal can't compare to the atrocities involved in Penn State's scandal under Joe Paterno and Jerry Sandusky, but it's interesting that the number of docked wins is so similar. Both Boeheim and Paterno enjoyed immense success and are/were treated like kings in the Northeastern part of the country. Paterno eventually got his wins reinstated. For Boeheim, the punishment drops him for second to sixth all-time in victories.
5. The school defended itself by referencing the Black Sox scandal of 1919
Most bizarre part of Syracuse's statement: The school referenced the Black Sox scandal?! pic.twitter.com/mygfUE2sgh— Jeff Eisenberg (@JeffEisenberg) March 6, 2015
The most infamous scandal in the long and extensive history of baseball teams and players breaking the sport's rules involves the 1919 Chicago White Sox. The White Sox lost the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, and eight players were later accused of throwing the series after being bribed by gamblers. Chicago's owner Charles Comiskey was notoriously frugal and all of the players were acquitted in court, but still given a lifetime suspension from the game.
How does that relate to what Syracuse just went through? Uh, we're not sure, but anything invokes the name of the Shoeless Joe Jackson in 2015 can't be all bad.