Usually when a person spends more then five years at a University without gaining a Ph.D. it’s frowned upon. However, I don’t think anyone will be making a fuss about Jim Boeheim staying at Syracuse since his playing days in 1962.
Boeheim was born in Lyon’s New York on November 17, 1944. He would graduate from Lyons Central High School in 1962 and promptly enrolled at Syracuse, setting the stage for a long career as a member of the Orange family.
Boeheim was a good student who walked unto (not a scholarship athlete) the team during his freshman year. Perhaps it was serendipitous that Boeheim’s roommate during that year was Dave Bing, who would go on to be one of the most decorated players in the history of the university.
Three years later, as a senior, he was team captain and lead the team to the NCAA tournament. After graduating in 1966, Boeheim would play for the Scranton, Miners of the American Basketball League (now defunct). Boeheim would win 2 championships and eventually return to the sidelines at Syracuse in 1969 as a graduate assistant. He then became a full assistant coach and helped lead the team to a Final Four appearance in 1975. In 1976, at the age of 32, Boeheim became the head coach of the Syracuse Orange.
In all but one season Boeheim has coached the Orange to a postseason appearance (in his first year the Orange were unable to participate in postseason play due to NCAA violations relating to player recruitment.) Over the past 34 years Boeheim has amassed over 800 wins, 5 Big East Tournament Championships, 8 Regular Season Big East Championships and numerous coach of the year awards, the most recent being awarded this season.
The crowning achievement in Boeheim’s career was winning the National Championship in 2003. With Freshman Carmelo Anthony and the clutch shooting of Gerry McNamara, the Orange beat the University of Kansas Jayhawks 81-78. This is currently the only National Championship won by Boeheim and the 3rd in school history.
To look at the list of players that Boeheim has coached is like looking over an NBA card collection. Names like Hakim Warrick, Derrick Coleman, and Carmelo Anthony are just the tip of the coaching iceberg. Boeheim’s coaching tree includes Rick Pitino (University of Louisville), Tim Welsh (Providence College) and Ralph Willard (the College of Holy Cross).
Boeheim has served as a coach for the USA national team at numerous levels. As a Head coach he won a gold medal at the 2001 World Championships, and two bronze medals at the 1990 FIBA World Championship and at the 2006 FIBA World Championships.
He also served on Mike Krzyzewski’s coaching staff during the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. The team, nicknamed the “Redeem Team” went a perfect 8-0 through the tournament and won a gold medal.
Boeheim is a Cancer survivor and is active in the Coaches vs. Cancer charity. Since 2000 it is reported that Boeheim has raised $4.5 million for the Central New York chapter of the American Cancer Society. Boeheim also plays charity golf to aid in fundraising.
Boeheim has not attracted much controversy, but recently he has been in a semi public feud with former Notre Dame player, and ESPN college basketball analyst, Doug Gottlieb. During a broadcast Gottlieb criticized the Orange’s non-conference schedule calling it “soft.” Reported, Boeheim brought up a past incident involving Gottlieb being charged with misdemeanor theft after stealing credit cards and charging $900 dollars to them in his freshman year at Notre Dame. Currently both sides have agreed to take the feud out of the public eye.
Lately the feud seems to be quashed. As early as this season Gottlieb has praised the Orange and mentioned them as among the nation’s elite teams.
If Boeheim has a true rival it would be the head coach at the University of Connecticut: Jim Calhoun. The similarities between the two are striking: Cancer survivors, 800 wins, national champions, coaches who stayed near their home states. Currently they are 3rd and 4th with the most wins among active coaches.
Although the two are fierce conference rivals, there is also feeling of mutual respect between them. This past February, when Calhoun took a medical leave of absence, Boeheim summarized his friend/rival’s contribution to the University of Connecticut. “Jim Calhoun is one of the best coaches to ever coach college basketball,” Boeheim said. “I don’t mean now. I mean period. Him not being there is a tremendous loss.” This was after Boeheim’s Orange had beaten the Huskies 72-67. Calhoun also paid a compliment by calling Boeheim underrated in a 2005 interview with ESPN’s Andy Katz. “It wasn’t until he got to the Final Four in the Meadowlands in 1996 that I felt he was truly appreciated. I remember the first 10 years in the league I had to answer why Jim can’t win this or that. We’re the old guard of the Big East.”
Another similarity between the two was that they were both elected into the basketball hall of fame on the same day. Boeheim explains their relationship as sort of a yin and yang, they couldn’t be separated from each other, especially when going into the Hall of Fame. [Calhoun is] The most similar [to me],” Boeheim said in an interview with ESPN’s Andy Katz. “We both had to go through similar things and it’s very apropos that we’re going in together. One couldn’t have gone in without the other. You wouldn’t have been able to explain why one would without the other.”
When not involved in basketball, Boeheim is an avid TV watcher and cinemophile. He is a fan of CSI: Miami and ER. He has also appeared in movies on the subject of college basketball. These movies include Blue Chips and He Got Game in both movies he played himself. Boeheim is also a fan of Bruce Springsteen.
Boeheim has said that he doesn’t want to coach anywhere but Syracuse, except for Little League. Maybe they will have a better chance getting him on the sideline in a couple of years, or if they change their team colors to orange and name themselves Syracuse.