Syracuse lost by 14 to NC State today, which ends their season, given that they have banned themselves—more on that in a bit—from playing in the postseason, which includes the ACC tournament. Coach Jim Boeheim refused to address the media after the game, sending out an assistant in his place and releasing a statement that basically said he didn't want questions about the sanctions the NCAA just levied upon him and the program to distract from the team:
I want to make sure today, as we play our last game and are together for last time [sic] as team, that the focus is on our players, and all they have done to make our University proud. This should be the focus this afternoon and nothing else.
Predictably, sports reporters came down hard on Boeheim:
These reporters aren't wrong. Assistant coach Mike Hopkins was (of course) still asked about the NCAA's findings, and he (of course) simply said he had no comment. The whole thing was stupid, and there's no real reason why Boeheim couldn't have done the same, rather than releasing a hilarious, bullshit statement about "the players" and sending his minion out to look like a jackass. Still, the griping misses the point, so far as it's premised on the idea that Boeheim is accountable to anybody but himself.
Jim Boeheim, like the Syracuse athletic department and the NCAA, doesn't give a fuck about Syracuse basketball players. If he gave a fuck about his players, he wouldn't have tried to damage Tyler Ennis's career or screwed over this year's mediocre team in the hopes of benefitting next year's. If the Syracuse athletic department gave a fuck about the players, they wouldn't have perpetuated rampant academic fraud. If the NCAA gave a fuck about the players, we would never have any use for our Death to the NCAA tag.
Jim Boeheim's job isn't to be courageous or accountable. It's to make Syracuse University and the NCAA money by doing whatever it takes to win basketball games while not being so overtly corrupt that ignoring his methods would threaten either institution's ability to claim that they give a fuck about the players, which they feel the need to do for public relations purposes. Boeheim is very good at one part of his job and apparently not so good at the other, but in all he's doing fine. In 2012 the Syracuse basketball program generated the second-most revenue of any basketball program nationwide, and garnered a profit of $11.7 million; the coach makes nearly $2 million a year, and if anything is actually underpaid relative to his peers. He doesn't give a fuck what you think.
The NCAA charged Boeheim and Syracuse with the ominous sounding "lack of institutional control," but in reality, Boeheim was controlling the institution just fine. Do we seriously expect him to talk honestly about this at a press conference? Criticizing him for not turning up is, functionally, criticizing him for not issuing a perfunctory "no comment," for not lying, or for not giving a speech out of A Few Good Men that everyone knows he's not going to give. The NCAA is a joke and the idea of the "student-athlete" is a fraud. Why should Boeheim get up in front of people and pretend he doesn't know it?
Photo via Grant Halverson/Getty