Syracuse plays for the future with self-imposed postseason ban

Syracuse plays for the future with self-imposed postseason ban

Published Feb. 5, 2015 8:15 p.m. ET

When Syracuse announced it was instituting a self-imposed postseason ban for the men's basketball team this season, the university was playing for the future - on the court and with NCAA regulators.

Its self-imposed ban is part of a common process now for schools trying to work through infractions, with mixed results in trying to minimize the impact of discipline to teams.

Syracuse has a case pending before the NCAA Committee on Infractions that dates back more than seven years. The school initiated the case, which includes academics, when it self-reported potential athletic department violations to the NCAA in 2007. School officials said in Wednesday's announcement that none of the conduct occurred after 2012 and no current student-athlete is involved.

''The university has taken this matter seriously and worked with the NCAA for nearly eight years to investigate and address potential rules violations. The process has been exhaustive,'' University Chancellor Kent Syverud said in a statement. ''We have taken responsibility for past violations and worked hard to ensure they are not repeated.''


School officials said there are additional self-imposed penalties that won't be announced until the NCAA issues its final report.

NCAA officials declined comment on Thursday.

Other universities have had mixed results at satisfying the NCAA with their self-punishments.

The Miami Hurricanes decided to penalize themselves after a rogue booster sparked an NCAA investigation that lasted more than two years. Nevin Shapiro's tales of extra benefit-giving landed him in prison for masterminding a $900 million Ponzi scheme. Shapiro became upset that those he spent lavishly on when he was a Hurricanes fan turned their collective backs when his criminal business dealings were exposed.

Miami kept the football team from a bowl game in 2011, then both the ACC championship game and another bowl game in 2012. The school also imposed recruiting limitations on itself.

When the NCAA finally ruled late in 2013, the two self-imposed postseason football bans were acknowledged and the Hurricanes did not have to miss another bowl trip.

In the middle of the 2004-05 basketball season, then-athletic director Andy Geiger declared Ohio State would not play in the postseason to offset NCAA penalties stemming from allegations that fired coach Jim O'Brien paid players. O'Brien told his boss he loaned a recruit $6,000.

Under first-year head coach Thad Matta, the Buckeyes upset unbeaten No. 1 Illinois in the last regular-season game and then were permitted to play in the Big Ten tournament, splitting two games before finishing 20-12.

The NCAA imposed probation and erased references to the school's 1999 Final Four appearance.

In a more infamous Ohio State scandal involving improper benefits and tattoos, the school took a postseason ban for 2012, vacated the 2010 season and went on NCAA probation. The school said at the time it would have received the penalties whether it volunteered for them or not.

And in 2011 North Carolina vacated 16 football victories from the 2008 and 2009 seasons while also reducing three scholarships for three straight years as part of self-imposed penalties following an improper benefits and academic misconduct investigation.

In March 2012, the NCAA tacked on a one-year postseason ban and additional scholarship reductions - with many of the violations centering on athletes receiving cash and gifts from people outside the program.

The original academic violations centered on a tutor providing too much assistance on research papers to players, though the NCAA has since re-opened its case.

Southern Mississippi is in a similar spot as Syracuse, self-imposing a postseason ban last month for the current basketball season because of an ongoing NCAA academic inquiry. The university said the program will not play in the Conference USA postseason tournament or make itself eligible for any other postseason tournament.

For the Orange, it's a no-win for Rakeem Christmas, the lone senior on the team who's having a breakout season. While Syracuse has only eight scholarship players currently available to play due to injuries, coach Jim Boeheim has the top recruiting class in his 39 years as head coach inked for next year and big things are expected as he nears 1,000 career victories. If the NCAA agrees a one-year postseason ban is sufficient, the new recruits won't be affected.

The last time Syracuse missed the postseason entirely was the 1992-93 season, when the team was also sanctioned by the NCAA. The Orange were allowed to play in the Big East Tournament that year.