And just like that, the Jim Boeheim era in Syracuse men’s basketball history finally reached its end.
The Hall of Fame inductee, 2003 NCAA champion, and just one of two Division 1 men’s coaches to reach at least 1,000 total wins, has coached his final game after a memorable, accolade-filled 47-year career with the Syracuse Orange. ‘Cuse suffered a heartbreaking 77-74 loss in the ACC Tournament to Wake Forest on a last-second three-pointer by the Demon Deacons.
Longtime assistant Adrian Autry will be the program’s next head coach.
Boeheim made his debut as head coach all the way back during the 1976-1977 season, and from there, Syracuse basketball took the leap from a small basketball program to an incredible one. The Orange were a perennial postseason contender and iconic team from the mid-seventies all the way into the quarter-way mark of the twenty-first century.
Under Boeheim, Syracuse went 1,116-441 (.717 win percentage) across 47 seasons, only missing the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons three times in nearly five decades worth of coaching. The list of accomplishments can go on and on, but Boeheim most-notably finishes his Orange coaching career with the following:
- 33 NCAA Tournament appearances, 20 Sweet Sixteen nods, seven Elite Eight appearances, five trips to the Final Four, three NCAA Tournament Championship Game appearances (1987, 1996, 2003), and one Championship Win in the iconic 2002-2003 season.
- 10 Big East regular season championship seasons
- 11 times in which the Orange finished Top-10 in the AP Poll
- 28 times where Syracuse finished Top-25 in the AP Poll
- Reached at least 20 wins 34 times in the regular season and at least 25 wins 19 times
- Entered the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005
- Became the first men’s coach to win an NCAA Tournament game in six different decades
Of course, diehard Syracuse fans have a slew of unforgettable memories under Boeheim, ranging from that incredible 2003 title run and the six-overtime classic against UConn, to the Orange’s 2016 cinderella Final Four run, including this crazy game against the one-seeded Virginia Cavaliers:
Obviously, the 2010s and past few seasons left most Syracuse fans with a sour taste in their mouth, even with a few surprising tournament performances in 2016 and 2021. As always with the legends, there comes a certain point where the clock strikes zero. Father Time remains undefeated.
With all this in mind, Boeheim’s retirement sparks the start of a new era for Syracuse basketball, especially after losing the man who basically built the team from the ground up and kept the program in headlines over nearly 50 years.
Boeheim turned the men’s team into a trademark program and a nationally-recognized brand. I grew up watching those amazing teams from the 2000s and 2010s: Michael Carter-Williams, Jerami Grant, Tyler Ennis, Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf, Wesley Johnson, C.J. Fair, Rakeem Christmas, Dion Waiters, and a laundry list of familiar faces. That’s not even including the iconic names of guys like Dave Bing, Louis Orr, Pearl Washington, Derrick Coleman, and more.
‘Cuse was the team with a unique style that will never be replicated, and it shows in the Orange’s final resume under Boeheim.
And in a city like Syracuse that struggled to stay afloat in the aftermath of Vietnam and the end of the traditional industrial boom town that was seen across the Rust Belt in the fifties and sixties, Boeheim kept ‘Cuse as a city in one piece. Amid all the turmoil, he was the one thing that remained continuous and that most of Syracuse as a community could rally around. Even as college basketball itself has seen astronomical change across the board, at least he kept the team competitive and in the headlines.
As CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander explained back in 2018:
“Boeheim does not have a parallel in major college athletics. There has never been Division I coach in men’s basketball, women’s basketball or football who has spent more than 40 years at their alma mater and never coached anywhere else. Boeheim’s the only one. There is no coaching figure more synonymous and literally affiliated with only one school.”
Regardless of how people feel about Boeheim now, it’s hard to not look at the final legacy of what he meant to college basketball, Syracuse, and the lives of everyone he played a part in.
All good things must eventually come to an end, right?