Syracuse NCAA investigation: On final day of hearing, statement released but officials silent

Chicago — Syracuse provided details of what led to its NCAA hearing for the first time Friday, but school officials weren’t taking questions.
The university’s statement on Friday announced the conclusion of a NCAA investigation and a two-day hearing in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions.

The university said no current athletes were involved in any potential violations, most of which transpired “years ago.” The only violations that Syracuse acknowledged were self-reported in 2007 but the school acknowledged that the NCAA looked at other “issues.”

The most recent issues occurred within the men’s basketball program between 2010 and 2012.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said in his soon-to-be-released biography that part of the investigation centered on Fab Melo’s academics. Melo played from 2010 to 2012.

Syracuse said the investigation dates to 2007 and was triggered by the university self-reporting violations. Syracuse told Yahoo in 2012 that it had self-reported violations regarding a failure to adhere to the school’s own drug policy.

Syracuse should be helped with any potential punishment by the fact that it self-reported the initial violations and has overhauled areas where issues were found. The university overhauled its athlete-support services soon after the violations involving Melo were discovered, with four employees leaving the school or getting re-assigned.

“Since first self-reporting to the NCAA in 2007, the university, in partnership with the Department of Athletics, has implemented a series of best practices, reformed and strengthened existing policies and procedures, and realigned and improved a range of student-athlete support services,” the statement said.

The timespan of the allegations, though, indicates the NCAA was likely attempting to show a pattern of behavior, a potential sign that it seeks either a “failure to monitor” or “lack of institutional control” penalty. Those findings will be announced in a public report, likely 30 to 60 days from now.

Members of the athletic department leaving the Chicago Hilton allowed the statement, issued by senior vice president for public affairs Kevin Quinn, to speak for them after a hearing that lasted a day and a half.

Most left quickly and quietly Friday afternoon, going from the luxurious Hilton hotel lobby to waiting cars.

Athletic director Daryl Gross hustled off an elevator, under a chandelier and out a revolving door with a cell phone pressed to his ear, dropping his arm as soon as he reached the sidewalk. He scanned to search for a running town car.

When asked how the day went, Gross paused long enough to shake hands but said, “We don’t talk about those things.”

Jim Boeheim barely broke stride on his way back from lunch at a hotel restaurant when approached, pausing just long enough to offer a disapproving look.

“You know better,” Boeheim said.

The emergence of two key players in the SU athletic department followed the departure of several lesser-known members of the athletic department.

When asked if she was headed back to Syracuse, deputy athletics director Renee Baumgartner, who toted a pink suitcase, shrugged and remained silent. Minutes later she climbed into a taxi.

Deputy athletic director Herman Frazier lifted suitcases into the back of the cab and politely declined comment.

“You know I can’t talk about that,” Frazier said. “Thank you.”

Syracuse’s business was handled quietly, behind closed doors on the fourth floor of the hotel, in meeting room 4J, tucked behind the hotel’s administrative offices.
Visitors were not permitted on that floor, hotel security said. That made glimpses of Syracuse officials scarce.

Football coach Scott Shafer came and went on the first day. Assistant basketball coach Mike Hopkins ordered a pizza to the hotel instead of the small, $25 version provided by room service, picking it up in the elevator while wearing basketball shorts. Boeheim paused his lunch long enough to take a selfie with a fan.

All three, most assuredly, are happy to get back to Syracuse and their preferred from of business.

The football team faces North Carolina State on Saturday. The basketball team has an exhibition against Carleton on Sunday.

The NCAA’s ruling and potential penalties will come down in time.

Written by Nick Endress

Nick Endress

Nick the Quick Endress is an avid fan of basketball and hip hop, and a contributing writer with WJS since 2013. Nick has interviewed rappers, ballers, rapper ballers, and baller rappers on the site and continues to preach that the NBA should have a team in Europe. Maybe because Nick currently lives outside London where to them Football is actually played with your feet, can you believe this fatuousness?