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1,101 Wins or 1,000 for Jim Boeheim Tonight? You Decide.

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cuse.com
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Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim flashes a signal to his team during a 90-72 win over Lehigh on Monday night, November 8, 2022

Let’s turn back the clock. It’s February 4, 2017. 17 degrees outside, but a sauna inside the Carrier Dome. On this night, against No. 9 Virginia, Jim Boeheim got win number 1,000, taking down the Cavaliers, 66-62.

“The fans rushed the court after, the players were out there on the floor,” said Syracuse.com’s Mike Waters, who was covering SU’s tilt with UVA that night. “Everybody mobbed everybody.”

But that 1,000th win was unofficial. In the eyes of records and people that track official numbers, it was only Boeheim’s 899th win.

While Syracuse celebrated, Syracuse University never recognized it. That was because the NCAA, on March 6 - before a 71-57 loss at N.C. State - took away 101 of Boeheim’s wins. This came after the NCAA found that Boeheim failed to promote compliance of NCAA rules within the program for nearly a decade.

“I remember there was a lot of shock,” Waters said. “There was a lot of shock because of how severe the sanctions were.”

A month before the NCAA penalized ‘Cuse, it penalized itself with a one-year, self-imposed postseason ban. But the night the Orange fell to the Wolfpack - the night after Boeheim was stripped of wins in the 2004-05, 2006-07, 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons - Waters saw Boeheim do something he had never seen before.

“It’s the only time I can remember where Jim Boeheim did not come out and do a postgame press conference,” Waters said. “They sent out the assistant coach, Mike Hopkins. Boeheim did not address the media that day.”

What were the sanctions anyway? Well, SU was flagged for Fab Melo receiving improper assistance of schoolwork in 2012. Plus, basketball players were being paid to do summer jobs by the Oneida YMCA. Now, rules have changed, thanks to NIL (name, image and likeness), but Syracuse will never get the beneficiary, unfortunately.

“Everybody was supposed to be playing by the same set of rules then,” Waters said. “If you weren’t, then you were penalized. If the rules change, well, okay. Now,, we are playing by a new set of rules, and everybody has to agree on that.”

Someone that viewed Boeheim’s win from the bench was Shaun Belbey, a five year guard for SU that was in his sophomore season, during the 2016-17 season. The ‘Cuse hoops' alum says those wins should have always stayed with Boeheim - and the whole team was behind it.

“We thought those wins should never have been taken away,” Belbey said. “I still think they should give those back, if they can.”

Last Monday, the Orange defeated Lehigh, 90-72, in their season opening win. It was 999 wins for Boeheim, officially; 1,100 unofficially. Now, it’s getting to the point where questions can be asked. With a win tonight against Colgate, is it 1,101 or 1,000?

“I’m thinking 1,101,” Belbey said. “I feel like everybody else is thinking that. I guess it depends on the person.”

When I asked Waters the same question, he gave me an interesting twist.

“They might have vacated the wins, but they did not do anything to the losses that the other teams suffered,” Waters said. “If you want to, you can say he accounted for 1,000 losses for other schools.”

Whatever side you are on, whether it is team 1,101 or team 1,000, the winning machine does not have it as his top priority.

“This will be the last time I address this. This is our first win,” Boeheim said to Waters after Syracuse’s win against Lehigh. “We are 1-0 and that is the only thing I am concerned about this whole year. Nothing else matters.”

The Orange take on central New York foe, Colgate, tonight at 7:00 p.m. McClurg Team Countdown to Tipoff begins WAER’s coverage at 6:30 p.m.