The final word is in, and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has lost his battle with the NCAA. Again.
The organization rejected the Hall of Fame coach's appeal on his nine-game suspension, a punishment that was originally handed down in March as part of a wide-ranging set of sanctions on Boeheim's storied basketball powerhouse program. But even though the suspension will remain at nine games, it does come with a modification. Boeheim was originally supposed to sit the first nine games of SU's ACC slate. Instead, his case against the sanctions spurred the NCAA to push up the stay.
Meaning he'll sit starting this week and will not coach against his longtime rival, Georgetown , on Saturday. The Orange-Hoyas game marks the first meeting between the teams since Syracuse parted from the Big East at the end of the 2013-14 season.
That's a minor blow for college hoops but a boost for Syracuse, which will get Boeheim back on Jan. 6, the day after Syracuse's home game against Clemson. That is Syracuse's third game of ACC play.
Boeheim not only can't coach his team, he can't be in contact with them at all. Boeheim previously said, perhaps tongue-in-cheek, that if the NCAA upheld the suspension, he'd go to Florida to golf while he was mandated to not be in contact with his coaching staff and players.
"In his appeal, the coach stated that he believes the Committee on Infractions used the wrong standard to determine its finding that he did not create an atmosphere of compliance," the NCAA release states. "He also argued that the Committee on Infractions abused its discretion when it prescribed a nine-conference-game suspension."
Associate coach Mike Hopkins will coach the team in Boeheim's absence.
The nine-game suspension mirrors the discipline the NCAA handed down to SMU coach Larry Brown who, unlike Boeheim, served his suspension to start the season. SMU is 5-0 and will not get Brown back until Dec. 18. The nine-game penalties to Brown and Boeheim are unprecedented by NCAA standards, but the organization is operating under new protocol that puts more on the shoulders of coaches, regardless of their knowledge of alleged transgressions in their programs.
"However, the Infractions Appeals Committee determined the stipulation that the suspension be served during conference play was a departure from precedent," per the NCAA release. "Because the coach was not directly involved in the underlying violations of the case, the appeals committee modified the penalty to begin with the team’s next game."
Syracuse VP for public affairs Kevin Quinn said via statement on Thursday that the school "is pleased the appeals committee recognized that the initial sanction imposed on coach Boeheim was too harsh."
Syracuse's other punishments in this case -- which spanned more than a decade and dealt with everything from failed drug tests to extra benefits with money to academic misconduct -- include three scholarships docked per year through 2018; vacating 101 of Boeheim's wins from the past decade; recruiting limitations through 2017; five years of probation; and other financial penalties.
Syracuse also self-banned its men's basketball program from last season's NCAA Tournament. In doing so, the NCAA opted not to ban SU from posteason play this year, which is good news for the Orange. Syracuse is off to a good start, now at 6-1 and ranked 14th in the latest AP poll.