SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The NCAA denounced one of the country's most decorated men's basketball programs Friday, suspending Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim for nine conference games next year and outlining a decade-long series of violations that included academic misconduct, improper benefits, and drug-policy failures.
The governing body, saying the school lost control of its athletic department, placed Syracuse on probation for five years for breaking with the "most fundamental core values of the NCAA."
The bulk of the violations concerned athletic department officials interfering with academics and making sure star players stayed eligible.
The Orange must vacate victories in which ineligible players participated. Those players competed during five seasons: 2004 to '07 and 2010 to '12.
"The behavior in this case, which placed the desire to achieve success on the basketball court over academic integrity, demonstrated clearly misplaced institutional priorities," the NCAA said.
Boeheim, the second-winningest coach in Division I history with 966 victories, has coached at Syracuse for 39 years, having played at the school as well. The 70-year-old coach has been an assistant on the last two U.S. Olympic champion teams.
The punishment includes financial penalties and the reduction of three men's basketball scholarships a year for four years. Recruiting restrictions will be enforced for two years. Boeheim's suspension will sideline him for half of Atlantic Coast Conference play next season.
The eight-year investigation also revealed violations by the football program and women's basketball, although most were in men's basketball.
In anticipation of the report, Syracuse Chancellor Kent Syverud had announced a men's basketball postseason ban for this year. The NCAA accepted the ban and indicated the school could delay the loss of scholarships for one year. Boeheim has a stellar class coming next fall, rated the best in his long tenure.
Syverud said the school does not agree with certain aspects of the ruling and is considering a possible challenge. Syverud said Boeheim might choose to appeal the part of the decision that affects him personally and said the university would support him.
The exact number of victories Boeheim will lose has not yet been determined, according to Syracuse University spokesman Kevin Quinn.
Boeheim said in a statement released by the university that he was relieved the investigation was over. He acknowledged that violations occurred, but said he was disappointed with the findings and conclusions reached by the committee.
"The committee chose to ignore the efforts which I have undertaken over the past 37 years to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the men's basketball program," Boeheim said. "Instead, they chose to focus on the rogue and secretive actions of a former employee of the local YMCA and my former director of basketball operations in order to impose an unprecedented series of penalties upon the university and the men's basketball program."
Boeheim also said he demanded "academic excellence" from his players, but under NCAA rules is not permitted to intervene in academic matters and is not allowed to review academic work performed by student-athletes.
The NCAA said Boeheim did not promote an atmosphere of compliance and failed to monitor the activities of those who reported to him regarding academics and boosters.