Legendary basketball coach Jim Boeheim’s long career at Syracuse is coming to an end

Basketball Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim’s 47-year tenure as coach at Syracuse came to an awkward end Wednesday, with the university saying Orange assistant Adrian Autry has been promoted to the position.

The move came less than three hours after Syracuse’s loss to Wake Forest in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, after which Boeheim hinted she would retire, but said it would ultimately be the university’s decision.

Then came the news from the school: “Today, as his 47th season as coach of his alma mater comes to a close, 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.

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 count was 1,015 or 1,116, only now-retired Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski had more wins than Boeheim at the Division I level.

“As I’ve said since day one that I started working here, the university hired me and it’s their choice what they want to do,” Boeheim said Wednesday afternoon. “I always have the option to leave, but it’s their decision whether I coach or not. It always was. Again, 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. It’s a great university.”

It was a confusing final press conference, with Boeheim hinting at retirement and hinting that he would like to return.

Clarity came a little later. And for the first time since 1976, someone other than Boeheim is now the manager of the Orange.

“There is no doubt in my mind that without Jim Boeheim, Syracuse Basketball would not be the dynamic program it is today,” Chancellor Kent Syverud said in a statement distributed by the school. “Jim has invested and dedicated most of his life to building this program, nurturing generations of student-athletes and representing his university with pride and distinction. I express my deep appreciation and gratitude to an alumnus who epitomizes what it means to be ‘Forever Orange.'”

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim watches their loss against Wake Forest in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament on March 8, 2023, in Greensboro, NCChris Carlson/AP

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 in 1976, he took over the program. It was his face since then; 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 of countless accomplishments. Excited for a lot of 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. “I’ve been watching Syracuse basketball for as long as I can remember from Jeremi Grant to Dion Waiters and those guys. The biggest lesson I’ll take from coach Boeheim is to go about my business every day and be a man.”

And there, no doubt, there was a drop in success.

Syracuse hasn’t won 20 games in any of the last four seasons. It was a far cry from the glory days that saw the program win the NCAA title in 2003 and reach the Final Four on four other occasions. Syracuse reached the NCAA Tournament 34 times under Boeheim, 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 I have. But I’ve lived in Syracuse all my life, and I hope to live there for a long time to come. I think it’s a great place.”

Now it’s Autry’s turn. He has been expected to be the next coach for some time. the question was always when.

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.

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

“It’s hard to imagine a world without him on the bench, but together with our coaches, student-athletes and fans, we will build on decades of success as a winning program.”

Leave a Comment