Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Jim Boeheim Has Said Enough To Be Fired

Jim Boeheim
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Whether Syracuse men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim is fired or not, is anyone's guess. Just know this: He has said enough to be fired.

He called the alleged victims of assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine, liars and extortionists. He said that these guys saw what was happening at Penn State and thought of how much money they could make. That their story couldn't be true.

No matter how much he wanted to stand up for his longtime friend, he didn't have to attack the accusers in the way he did.

Boeheim apologized on Sunday night in an emotionless, heavily lawyered and well crafted statement, saying he supports an investigation and he was sorry for his tough words.

Syracuse had done an incredible job managing its crisis in the wake of how badly Penn State had botched it. Everything was perfectly executed, except for Boeheim, who didn't want to go along with anyone who undoubtedly advised him not to say what he did.

On Monday, ESPN's Dick Vitale said that Boeheim's situation was different from the Penn Statesituation because Boeheim wasn't told about anything. Boeheim defenders like Vitale don't understand that the standard to fire Boeheim isn't the same as it was for JoePa. After Penn State, schools are going to be more sensitive, which means administrators are going to fire coaches faster to save their own jobs.

Does Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor have the right to fire Boeheim at this time? Absolutely. Not based on what he might have known, but based on his complete and utter lack of tact.

When Boeheim vigorously defended Bernie Fine, who was fired on Sunday night, he wasn't speaking for the university, he was speaking as a lone wolf and no employee, especially in his position, has the right to speak from a personal pulpit ignoring his responsibility to the institution that signs his checks. It stunk just like Joe Paterno's statement when he told the Board of Trustees not to spend a minute discussing his future.

For years, top administrators have known the deal. They had the power to talk down to the big coach on campus, but they never dared. The best manifestation of this came earlier this year when Ohio State president E. Gordon Gee said at a news conference that he hoped Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel didn't fire him. Amidst what now seems an insignificant cover-up, Tressel was forced to resign before the season.

Sure Boeheim is the highest paid Syracuse employee (with a base salary of over $1 million), but this has been a year where top administrators have learned not to kowtow to coaches. Instead, they have to look out for themselves -- to save their own jobs. Just like Paterno, Boeheim has acted like the benevolent dictator. Paterno brought Penn State president Graham Spanier down with him, so you can only assume that Cantor feels she doesn't have to wait for another full investigation to take action.

Questions?  Comments?