It’s definitely going to be strange to see Syracuse in the ACC. They’re synonymous with the Big East. What better man to ask about the emotions swirling around the Syracuse basketball program then Jim Boeheim? The face of the Syracuse basketball program initially seemed upset about the move but now sounds very confident with the university’s decision to move on from the Big East. Boeheim continually points out that the current Big East we have set in place today is not the one that Syrcause was a founding father of sometime ago with 9-10 teams. This is a different Big East now and if people wanted to save the conference then Notre Dame should have stepped up to the plate in 2004 and not rejected the TV package. Jim Boeheim joined The Score Syracuse with Brent Axe to discuss when he found out that Syracuse was going to the ACC, Syracuse being proactive in leaving the Big East, being frustrated that football drives the bus when it comes to switching conferences going from the Big East to the ACC, John Marinatto claiming he will keep Syracuse and Pittsburgh in the Big East through the season and the idea that he would retire before he would coach a game in the ACC.
When did you find out that Syracuse was going to the ACC?
“Late last week. It happened pretty fast. It was one of those things that just came about and the university made a decision, the chancellor, and their concern is what is best for Syracuse University. I think one thing you have to understand about this move is that we are not leaving the Big East that we were founding fathers for. The 9-10 team league where everyone was in the same geographical area. I would be upset if we left that. We wouldn’t have left that conference, but because of football…this isn’t something new. Mike Tranghese is talking about, well football is thriving. Football has driven all the expansions that we have had. The Big East reign…I mean Mike Tranghese is a good friend of mine, but he must have forgotten we raided the Atlantic 10 for West Virginia, Pittsburgh and Villanova then we raided the Conference USA for Louisville, for Cincinnati, and Marquette. This is nothing new in college athletics. This has been going on for 50 years. Conferences grow and change and adapt to what happens. This is nothing new, but we are not leaving that 9-10 team…we are leaving the 17-team Big East Conference that is going to include a team from Texas and Florida and Chicago and Wisconsin and Kentucky. We’re not leaving what we founded. We are leaving something completely different and it’s obviously unstable and a couple of people criticizing this are people that could have saved the Big East. If Notre Dame wanted to save the Big East they could have joined The Big East in 2004 and we wouldn’t be having these discussions today, but they didn’t want to. Then they voted against the TV package. Without the TV package there is a lot of instability there.”
How much of Syracuse making this decision to leave the Big East was proactive before the Titanic sank here?
“This is the Chancellor [Nancy Cantor] and [Athletic Director] Daryl Gross. This is their decision. Obviously the Board of Trustees is aware, but it’s the President’s [Nancy Cantor] decision. I don’t make decisions like this. I make decisions about who we are recruiting and what defense we are going to play. Other then that I don’t make university decisions or policies. They aren’t going to consult me. They have to do what they think is best for the university. If we were leaving the old Big East with 10, 11, 12 teams and a nice league in this geographical area I’d probably be upset, but what we have now in the Big East is not what we used to have. It’s completely different. Am I still upset about it? Yeah. I mean 30-something years in a league? You bet. But the fans that come to our games and I’ve seen a lot of letters and a lot of talk about well we are not going to see this team or that team. The five games in a row at Syracuse could be Marquette, Cincinnati, DePaul, South Florida and Louisville. Those teams weren’t in the Big East, but you see great games. I think what our fans want, the real fans of Syracuse basketball, that go to the games, not the ones who call in, but the ones that go to the games want to see good basketball. If you don’t think that Syracuse-Duke or Syracuse-North Carolina or Syracuse-Wake Forest or Syracuse-Maryland if you don’t think those are going to be great games then you don’t understand college basketball. They are going to be great games. That’s what our fans want to see. We are not leaving to go to a bad place. We are going to a great basketball conference and a good conference. Great lacrosse. What about the other sports? They are great in field hockey. They are great in soccer. They are great in volleyball. This is a win for Syracuse Athletics in terms of joining a great conference and one that’s on the East Coast. This is an East Coast Conference. This is where we recruit. People ask about recruiting? This can only help our recruiting.”
There are a lot of good things about moving to the ACC, but how frustrating is it that football drives the bus and there’s nothing you can do about it?
“I think you have to understand two things with this. First of all basketball is my concern. Are we going to a great place to play basketball? Yes. How you get there? I don’t think that matters. If you meet a girl on a blind date and she ends up being the girl for you are you upset? It doesn’t matter. As long as you meet her. We are going to a great basketball conference. All the moves in the Big East over the last 15-20 years have been driven by football. Every one. So this is nothing new. This is nothing new. It’s always been about football. When Mike Tranghese was the Commissioner [of the Big East] it was about football. Now that he’s out it is still about football. Are we going to a good place for basketball? The answer is yes. I’m not upset about that. I am fine. If we were going to a bad basketball conference I would be upset. Also you need to listen to what I am saying. This is not the Big East that we founded. This is not the 10, 11, 12 team conference. This is 17 teams spread throughout the country.”
John Marinatto has said he is going to hold Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the 27 months in the Big East. I don’t think that will hold up, but if he’s intent on that, would do you think of that?
“If that’s anything more than a ploy to settle something I would not respect that. The Big East needs to move on. They need to worry about who they are adding and what they are going to do because if they can get a couple of teams why would they say to those two teams you can’t come in right now we are going to hold Syracuse and Pittsburgh for two more years? Now that doesn’t make any sense at all. In the best interest of the Big East I would think is to go ahead and make their moves. What would that keep? Why would they want? What good what it do to keep Syracuse for another year? It just doesn’t make sense to their well being. If they are going to go out of business completely you know and they want to have 2 more years with us I guess that would make sense, but I would hope they are not thinking about going out of business if they would want to go ahead and move on and expand and make the moves they need to make.”
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard and read that you will not coach a game in the ACC, I would be a rich man. Can we clarify that or announce your retirement?
“This move will have 0% input into my decision to when I retire. Zero. If I could go less than zero, I’d go less than zero. Zero. Actually Brent [Axe] you will have more influence on when I will retire than this move [to the ACC].”