Syracuse hoops under investigation

Syracuse University basketball has been under NCAA investigation for a period of “years,” a source with knowledge of the case told

That source said the school has received a letter of preliminary inquiry from the NCAA.

The specific nature of the alleged violations was not disclosed by the source but the transgressions were described as both major and wide-ranging in nature. The investigation includes scrutiny of player Fab Melo's academic eligibility and an alleged 2007 sexual assault involving three players, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.

The paper also reported that NCAA investigators had been interviewing sources in Syracuse for at least the past academic year. The investigation also encompasses football but that it is believed to primarily involve basketball. Syracuse has been penalized only once by the NCAA in a major case according to the association's legislative database. That was in 1992 in a case that focused on extra benefits in the basketball program.

The NCAA would not confirm the investigation.

"We can't comment on current, pending or potential investigations," said NCAA spokeswoman Emily Potter.

The case is not related to allegations made against former assistant coach Bernie Fine. Federal authorities dropped their investigation of sexual abuse claims made against Fine in November.

A year ago Syracuse admitted to an ongoing NCAA inquiry into possible violations of its drug policy. The potential violations were reported by Yahoo! Sports.

“As we said last year at this time, we are collaborating with the NCAA as part of an ongoing inquiry," said Kevin Quinn, Syracuse senior vice president for public affairs. "Given this process is ongoing, we are unable to comment further at this time.”

The ongoing investigation has apparently grown larger in scope. When asked to characterize how wide-ranging the probe might be, a source with knowledge of the case told “Throw a dart at the [NCAA] Manual [and you would hit a violation by Syracuse]."

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim reacted during Wednesday's media session in San Jose, Calif. prior to the Orange's opening-round game Thursday against Montana.

"Same story they had last year at this time," Boeheim said. "I guess that's annual. I guess next year we'll get it again."

As a private university, Syracuse would not necessarily be subject to Freedom of Information requests to reveal the letter of inquiry. The preliminary letter is sent to schools as formal notice that an investigation is being conducted. The next step in the NCAA process would be a notice of allegations, which would spell out detailed violations.

"We're concerned about playing Montana," Boeheim said. "What people write or say, you know there's 30,000 people in the [Carrier] Dome yelling at me all the time."

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