Jim Boeheim out as Syracuse coach after 47 seasons

Jim Boeheim enrolled at Syracuse in 1962. Played there until 1966. Began coaching there in 1969. Took over the program as head coach in 1976.

Simply put, it was Syracuse basketball.

So far.

The Basketball Hall of Famer’s 47-year tenure as coach at Syracuse came to an awkward end Wednesday, with the university saying Orange coach and former Syracuse player Adrian Autry has been promoted to the position. The Orange moved quickly, making the announcement less than three hours after Syracuse lost to Wake Forest in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. And if Boeheim knew the announcement was coming, he didn’t let it in his final postgame press conference.

“It depends on the university,” Boeheim said. “They have to make their decision and it’s up to them.”

The university didn’t wait long before making the decision public, saying in part: β€œToday, as his 47th season as the head coach at his university comes to an end, so does his storied career at Syracuse University. Associate Head Coach Adrian Autry ’94, one of Boeheim’s former players and longtime assistant, has been named the program’s next head coach.”

Autry has been on Boeheim’s staff since 2011 and has held the Associate Head coach title since March 2017.

“There have been very few more influential forces in my life than Syracuse University and Jim Boeheim,” Autry said. “They have both played such important roles and without either of them I’m sure I wouldn’t have this incredible opportunity in front of me.”

The 78-year-old Boeheim’s record in his 47 seasons, officially, was 1,015-441. That reflects 101 wins stripped by the NCAA for violations between the 2004-07 and 2010-12 seasons.

Whether the tally was 1,015 or 1,116, only now-retired Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski had more wins than Boeheim at the Division I level. Boeheim led the Orange to the 2003 national title – Carmelo Anthony’s lone season at Syracuse – and saw 46 of his players take part in NBA drafts. Among them: Anthony, Derrick Coleman, Ronnie Seikali, Dion Waiters, Billy Owens, Sherman Douglas and Pearl Washington. Boeheim was also a USA Basketball assistant under Krzyzewski on the teams that won Olympic gold medals in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

“I was very fortunate to be able to coach my college team, play and then become an assistant coach and then a head coach without ever having to leave Syracuse,” Boeheim said in that postgame press conference, one in which he hinted that he would retire and then hinted that he would be back. “It’s a great university.”

He was, in many ways, the face of this university. Boeheim and his wife Juli, through their family foundation, have raised millions for children’s causes throughout Central New York. He helped spearhead what became known as the “Coaches vs. Cancer” phenomenon with the American Cancer Society.

The 2-3 zone defense he used almost exclusively challenged opponents for decades. His devotion was unwavering. The best examples were how he returned to work earlier than doctors wanted after undergoing treatment for prostate cancer in December 2001 β€” the team was struggling and needed him, Boeheim said at the time β€” and how he went to work at 12: 01 am the day his nine-game suspension for NCAA violations during the 2015-16 season was lifted.

“He’s given his heart and soul to this school,” said Washington coach Mike Hopkins, a former Boeheim assistant. “I’m still surprised they don’t have a statue of him in the middle of campus. When you think of Syracuse University, you think of Jim Boeheim and the Carrier Dome, and now they’re both going to be gone, which is very sad.”

The dome still stands, just with a different name. The program will continue, just with a different coach. For the first time since 1976, someone other than Boeheim is now the manager of the Orange.

“Jim invested and dedicated most of his life to building this program, nurturing generations of student-athletes and representing his university with pride and distinction,” Chancellor Kent Shiverund said in a statement distributed by the school.

He was hired as a graduate assistant in 1969

Boeheim has been synonymous with Syracuse for more than six decades. He was born in the town of Lyons in central New York, not far from Syracuse. He enrolled at the school in 1962 as a walk-on, eventually captaining the then-Orangemen alongside Dave Bing.

In 1969 he was hired at Syracuse as a graduate assistant. And on April 3, 1976, he took over the program after Roy Danforth left for Tulane. Boeheim has led the program ever since. even the dome stadium where Syracuse plays its home games has been named after him since 2002.

“There will never be another Jim Boeheim,” tweeted Buddy Boeheim, one of Boeheim’s sons who played for him at Syracuse. “The greatest coach, father and mentor I could ever ask for. A man who gave a city, program and university everything he had throughout his life with countless accomplishments. Excited for much golf in our future, love you pops .”

The Orange were 17-15 this season and will miss the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season. That led to criticism, which led to questions about Boeheim’s future and what the school would ultimately decide.

“It’s an honor to play for Coach Boeheim,” Syracuse’s Benny Williams said after the loss to Wake Forest.

A low point came in November 2011. Bernie Fine, then Syracuse’s associate coach, was fired after being accused of sexual abuse by two former Syracuse ballboys. Boeheim first called the ballboys liars out to get money, then apologized for being insensitive to abuse victims and took responsibility. A fine was never charged.

Syracuse reached the NCAA Tournament 35 times under Boeheim, went to the Final Four in five of those appearances, won 10 Big East regular-season titles and five more in that conference’s tournament.

“I’ve been so fortunate to be able to coach in Syracuse, a place I love, I love living,” Boeheim said. “People keep wondering about it, but maybe that’s a flaw that I have. But I’ve lived in Syracuse my whole life and I hope to live there for a long time in the future. I think it’s a great place.”

Now it’s Autry’s turn.

He played in 121 games in his four seasons with Boeheim and then spent more than a decade on the bench with his former coach.

“I have spent much of my time in the game of basketball learning from Jim and I am so grateful to him for preparing me to continue the winning tradition that is Orange Basketball,” Autry said.

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