|The Yahoo Sports story on drug violations is the latest off-court distraction for the Orange program. (AP)|
By Matt Norlander
UPDATE: Syracuse University released this statement: "In accordance with NCAA regulations, it is the University's practice to self-report possible violations to the NCAA. We self-reported issues with drug testing to the NCAA, and there is currently an ongoing inquiry. The inquiry does not involve any current SU student-athletes. To ensure the integrity of the ongoing process, we are unable to comment further at this time."
Yahoo Sports is reporting Syracuse men's basketball has dealt with a pattern of violated drug tests over the course of the past 11 years. And not only that, but the program often overlooked, or ignored, those violations while players continued to be eligible. These transgressions could lead to action by the NCAA, if it deems the program willfully violated protocol. The 2003 NCAA championship season is currently under speculation, though not directly or solely, and could be retroactively investigated by the NCAA.
The news comes just as Syracuse finished one of its greatest regular seasons in program history, finishing with a 30-1 record and on the cusp of a No. 1 seed in next week's NCAA tournament. Does this mean anything for this year's team? That is unclear, but seems unlikely right now. The NCAA hasn't offered up a statement, and Jim Boeheim offered no comment to Yahoo Sports when they told him of their story.
From Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson and Pat Forde:
There is no indication the drug policy violations have taken place this season, willfully or otherwise.Over the course of a three-month investigation, four sources with intimate knowledge of the Syracuse men’s basketball program told Yahoo! Sports at least 10 players since 2001 have tested positive for a banned recreational substance or substances. The sources said all 10 of those players were allowed to practice and play at times when they should have been suspended by the athletic department, including instances when some players may not have known of their own ineligibility. The four sources said Syracuse violated its drug policy in at least two areas: failing to properly count positive tests; and playing ineligible players after they should have been subject to suspension.
This news adds to the most dramatic off-court narratives during a season in the history of the program, as the allegations of sexual molestation against Bernie Fine was a fireball of a story at the start of this season. There was also a minor off-court story from January was a grades issue related to Orange center Fab Melo, who missed three games.
Syracuse is the No. 1 seed in the Big East tournament and plays a to-be-determined opponent in Thursday's noon ET game at Madison Square Garden.