Jim Boeheim’s long career at Syracuse ends, Autry takes over

Jim Boeheim’s long career at Syracuse ends, Autry takes over

Chris Carlson/AP

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim looks on during their loss against Wake Forest in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, Wednesday, March 8, 2023, in Greensboro, NC

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

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

Then came news from the school: “Today, as his 47th season as coach of his alma mater comes to an end, so does his storied career at Syracuse University. Associate Coach Adrian Autry ’94, one of Boeheim’s former players and longtime assistant, has been named the program’s next coach.

Autry has been on Boeheim’s staff since 2011 and has held the title of associate head coach since March 2017.

The 78-year-old Boeheim’s record in his 47 seasons, officially, was 1,015-441. That reflects 101 NCAA wins in violation 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 when 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 choice to retire, but it’s their decision whether I will coach or not. Always has been. Again, I’ve been very fortunate to be able to coach my college team, play and then be 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 not long after. And for the first time since 1976, someone other than Boeheim is now the Orange’s head coach.

“There is no doubt in my mind that without Jim Boeheim, Syracuse Basketball would not be the powerhouse program it is today,” Chancellor Kent Syverud said in a statement released by the school. “Jim has invested and dedicated much of his life to building this program, cultivating generations of student-athletes and representing his alma mater with pride and distinction. I express my deepest appreciation and gratitude to a student who embodies what it means to be ‘Forever Orange’.”

Boeheim has been synonymous with Syracuse for more than six decades. He was born in the central New York city of Lyons, not far from Syracuse. He enrolled at the school in 1962 as a walk-on, eventually becoming a then-Orangemen captain alongside Dave Bing.

In 1969, he was hired at Syracuse as a graduate assistant. And in 1976, he took over the program. He has been its face ever since; even the field in the dome where Syracuse plays its home games has been named after him since 2002.

“There will never be another Jim Boeheim,” Buddy Boeheim, one of Boeheim’s sons who played for him at Syracuse, tweeted Wednesday. “The greatest coach, father and mentor I could ever ask for. A man who gave the city, the program and the university everything he had throughout his lifetime of countless accomplishments. Excited for lots 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 Jeremy Grant to Dion Waiters and those guys. The biggest lesson I’m going to take from coach Boeheim is to just go about my business every day and be a man.”

And there, without question, there was a decline in success.

Syracuse hasn’t won 20 games in any of the last four seasons. It was a far cry from the glory days when the program won the NCAA title in 2003 and reached 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 very fortunate to be able to coach at Syracuse, a place that I love, that I love to live in,” Boeheim said. “People keep wondering about it, but maybe that’s a flaw I have. But I have lived in Syracuse all my life and will live there hopefully for a long time to come. I think it’s a great place.”

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

He played in 121 games in his four seasons for Boeheim, 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 both played such important roles, and without either of them, I’m sure I wouldn’t have this incredible opportunity ahead of me me,” Autry said. I have spent much of my time in the game of basketball learning from Jim and I am very 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.”

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