Sunday March 8th, 2015

ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale defended Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim on Saturday, saying Boeheim was unaware of the infractions that led to the NCAA imposing heavy sanctions on the Orange this week.

Vitale made his comments while calling Saturday's game between No. 2 Virginia and No. 16 Louisville. He also defended Boeheim in a column on Boeheim will be honored at the 10th Annual Dick Vitale Gala in Sarasota, Fla., on May 15.

"Jim Boeheim was guilty of one thing: trust," Vitale said. "He had trust in his people, trust in his boosters from the YMCA and they really violated that trust. They laid cash on some players. Jim Boeheim was not aware they were getting cash. If he was, trust me, he would have done something."

Boeheim was suspended for the first nine ACC games of the 2015-16 season and Syracuse was docked 12 scholarships over four years after the NCAA released the findings of its investigation into the school on Friday. The NCAA said Syracuse "did not control and monitor its athletics programs, and its head men’s basketball coach failed to monitor his program."

Syracuse self-reported the violations, which the NCAA said relate to extra benefits, academic misconduct, impermissible booster activity and failure to follow its drug policy dating to 2001.

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[ basketball] In addition to Boeheim's suspension and the loss of scholarships, Syracuse was placed on probation from March 2015 to March 2020. The men's basketball program was also forced to vacate 108 wins in which ineligible players participated. The Orange were not forced to vacate their 2003 national championship, but losing the 108 wins dropped Boeheim from second to sixth (966 wins to 858) on the list of all-time wins by a Division I men's basketball coach.

Boeheim reportedly plans to appeal the suspension.

Syracuse lost to N.C. State on Saturday, 71-57. Boeheim did not attend the postgame news conference, instead issuing the following statement:

"Yesterday I issued a full statement with my thoughts on and reaction to the NCAA committee on infractions report. In that statement I said I would have no further comment on this matter as I consider my options moving forward. That remains the case today.

"Win or lose, today should be about this terrific team and how they have made me, our coaches, the university and the community proud during a challenging season on and off the court. I'm as proud of this team as any I have ever coached. I think these players have done everything any and all of us could have asked for them to do.

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"I want to make sure today, as we play our last game and are together for [the] last time as [a] team, that the focus is on our players, and all they have done to make our university proud. This should be the focus this afternoon and nothing else.

"That is why I have asked coach Mike Hopkins to lead today's postgame media availability. There will be time in the future for me to more fully comment on NCAA issues and of course I will take the opportunity to do that at the right time."

Mike Fiammetta

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