Jim Boeheim's Latest Opponent: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Mar 14, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim speaks at a press conference during practice for the second round of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

If this season teaches us nothing, it's that Syracuse Orange coach Jim Boeheim doesn't give a f*** what you or anyone else thinks of the job he's doing.

Honestly, it's the only way he can survive given all the scandal, allegations and issues that have plagued the 2011-2012 season.

So what happened now?

Well, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made a reference to Boeheim during a conference call with news reporters about the graduation rates of NCAA basketball tournament teams on Wednesday.

"There was actually tremendous skepticism that the NCAA would ever raise the academic bar to be eligible for postseason glory, much less that it would act any time soon," Duncan said Wednesday. "In fact, one Hall of Fame basketball coach told USA TODAY (last year) that the proposal to require teams to be on track to graduate half their players was, and I quote now, 'completely nuts.'"

That would be Boeheim who said that last year.

As you know, the NCAA has new standards next season and will ban teams from postseason next season if they don't hit academic progress rates (APR) of 930. Had that score been in place this season, Syracuse would not even be in the NCAA Tournament. Or so we're told.

So, couple Duncan's comments with this column that ran with the interview and you've officially got Jim Boeheim's attention.

Boeheim shared his thoughts on the matter during the Syracuse - UNC-Asheville post-game presser.

"It appeared today in the paper in USA Today,’’ Boeheim said. "I think people need to get better information. Syracuse would be eligible to play in the tournament this year. We are qualified. We are over 930. Under this year's rules or last year's rules, we would be eligible to play in the tournament. Where they got those statistics, they're a year old. Even though they haven't released this year's statistics, they're done. We are eligible.

"I think everybody knows who the secretary of education was talking about,’’ Boeheim said. "Is there anybody here who didn't know who he was talking about?

Sensing that Boeheim was going to just keep going, the moderator of the press conference said "Thank you, Coach" in an attempt to end his rant. To which Boeheim replied, "I'm not done."

Boeheim went on to explain why the APR's standards are dubious and don't take into consideration if a player transfers or if a player leaves school early to prepare for the draft. He also noted the double-standard that college basketball players are held to that other college students are not.

"I don't think Harvard was punished when Bill Gates left early,’’ Boeheim said. "I don't think they were. I don't think he did too badly. We've also had five or six guys who left early, went to the NBA, played, and came back and graduated. We helped them graduate. We have two or three right now that are very close to graduating who are done playing with their NBA careers.

Syracuse University also released a statement on the APR story...

"Under the existing APR rules, the Syracuse University men's basketball program is eligible for postseason competition. The department continually monitors the APR and projects that men's basketball will meet the guidelines for postseason competition for 2012-13."

So basically, there's two ways to read all of this:

1. Either Syracuse is getting picked on again because they're the low-hanging fruit (pun intended) of college sports right now.

2. Boeheim might not do anything wrong, but his long-standing way of doing business is now causing headaches and problems for the program and the school.

Perhaps they're related, perhaps not. Just know that Jim Boeheim is now taking on two people suing him for millions, investigative reporter Charles Robinson, and a United States cabinet member all at the same time. Who does that? JAMES ARTHUR BOEHEIM, THAT'S WHO.

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