Pete ThamelESPN5 minute reading
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — At age 78 and in the midst of his 47th season as head coach at Syracuse, Jim Boeheim acknowledges he’s heard chatter about retirement for well over a decade.
After the Orange’s 77-68 win over Boston College here Saturday night, Boeheim told ESPN that he would “probably” return for the 2023-24 season and that the decision to do so is up to him. Boeheim expressed optimism about Syracuse’s young core and some concerns about the future of college basketball, lamenting that it is in a “terrible place.”
Asked if he thought he would coach this young core again next season, Boeheim told ESPN: “I have no other plans. Listen, this has been the question of the day for 15 years. This is not a new question. It’s just the calendar that says, “Well, he’s 78.” It’s just the calendar. If it wasn’t the calendar, if I was 65, nobody would say anything. And I’m not going to resign just because it’s the calendar. Anything can happen. Everything, literally. We’ll just see what happens. I’m not saying anything because I don’t know.”
Syracuse has improved to 14-10 and 7-6 in the ACC, but is expected to miss the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season. In a career that included 35 NCAA Tournament appearances, five Final Fours and a national title, there have been only two other times since he took over in 1976 that Boeheim’s teams missed the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons.
Boeheim said he has had the full support of the Syracuse athletic department, campus leadership and fan base.
“Ninety-five percent of Syracuse people want me to coach,” he said. “Why wouldn’t they? As bad as we’ve been the last two years, we were fun to watch last year and we’re still fun to watch and we’re still competitive. We just played three of the top teams in the country If you get beat with 20 of these teams, you say, ‘OK, we’ll see.’
Boeheim said he feels he has autonomy over the decision about his future, pointing out that he previously coached a plan for him to retire after the 2017-18 season.
“I know it’s my choice,” he said. “I can do whatever I want. I just don’t know for sure.”
He continued that thought by going through the potential moves on his team and hoping that his talented core of players will return, which would have been more certain in recent years before the transfer portal and one-off transfer eased movement.
The young core includes freshman guard Judah Mintz (15.4 points per game), freshman forward Chris Bell (6.8 PPG), freshman forward Maliq Brown (6.2 PPG) and freshman sharpshooter Justin Taylor (5, 0 PPG). He also mentioned that late-blooming senior center Jesse Edwards, who scored 27 points against Boston College, and senior guard Joe Girard III have more years.
Boeheim said roster continuity is appealing, but the idea of a total rebuild through the NCAA transfer portal is not. He referenced several ACC schools that either brought in or retained high-profile players with big names, images and equity deals. These deals have become legal in college sports in recent years as NCAA rules have evolved.
“This is a terrible place we’re in in college basketball,” he said. “Pittsburgh bought a team. OK, fine. Min [big donor] talks about it, but he doesn’t give any money. Nothing. Not one guy. Our guys make $20,000. Wake Forest bought a team. Miami bought a team. … It’s like, ‘Really, this is where we are?’ That’s really where we are, and it’s only going to get worse.”
He added: “It’s crazy. That’s why those guys got out – that’s why Jay [Wright] get out, mike [Krzyzewski] come out. That’s why they got out. The transfer portal and everything is wrong. It’s real.”
Upon learning of Boeheim’s comments, Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes told ESPN that the notion of the Demon Deacons buying a team was “one thousand percent wrong” and said he has “never” had a player choose Wake for the NIL- money.
“I don’t have a player on my team who has been paid NIL to come here,” Forbes said.
Boeheim followed up with ESPN early Sunday to say he was “completely wrong” about Wake Forest and Pitt’s buying team, as the only public use of the NIL he knew of was Miami’s, which was highly publicized. He said he “shouldn’t have” included Wake and Pitt in his statement Saturday night.
Boeheim said Syracuse has taken quite a few players off the transfer portal to bolster its roster — he mentioned Cole Swider; his son Jimmy Boeheim; and current reserve guard Symir Torrence. He said there was no money involved in these transfers, but also stressed that what the other schools are doing is legal.
“We didn’t take [many] transfer portal guys,” he said. “If we did it and did what we had to do, I wouldn’t feel too good about it. These others [coaches]it doesn’t bother them.”
This will be Syracuse’s longest NCAA tournament drought in more than a decade. The last back-to-back misses were in the 2007 and 2008 tournaments. The other back-to-back NCAA tournament misses in Boeheim’s head coaching career came in 1981 and 1982. It was long enough that Syracuse actually won the Big East tournament in 1981, but the league did not yet have an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Boeheim said the only vocal critic he hears consistently is a local talk show host. Boeheim rejects the notion that it is a significant drumbeat for him to retire.
“‘All these people are saying he should step down,'” he said, followed by a retort from the talk show host. “Who is that? Everyone I see comes up to me and says, ‘Coach, don’t retire.’ Where do you get that?”