Column | Jim Boeheim is wrong about Pitt and the NIL



Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, left, gives instructions to guard Justin Taylor during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia in Syracuse, N.Y., Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

By Mason Carter, Staff Writer

With more than 1000 wins, a national championship and a Naithsmith Hall of Fame induction, Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Boeheim is a giant in the sport. Few will achieve this dream career, let alone come close to it. Years ago, Boeheim was viewed as one of the best in the sport’s history, but he was questioned for his character. Today this same man, who’s currently the oldest coach in college basketball, chose to make comments that answered those questions.

Boeheim is the head coach of Syracuse men’s basketball team and is widely regarded as one of the greatest coaches ever in college basketball. Hired as a graduate assistant in 1969, Boeheim was eventually promoted to head coach in 1976. He has worked at Syracuse ever since, capturing five Big East championships, 34 NCAA tournament appearances and 5 final four appearances with the Orange.

This season his team sits at 14-10, with a 7-6 conference record, and is most likely sitting outside of the tournament field. It’s a down year by his standards, but most coaches would find ways to manage it. Well, Boheim had a different approach to handling his concerns.

“This is an awful place we’re in in college basketball,” Boeheim said. “Pittsburgh bought a team.”

It’s one thing for Jim Boeheim to voice his frustrations on the current state of college basketball, but to accuse schools of “buying teams” is just low. Not only is it unprofessional to blame his competitors, but it’s also blatantly inaccurate. It’s unfair that — in a time of great success for the Panthers and head coach Jeff Capel — Boeheim makes these bold accusations.

Pitt is tied atop of the ACC standings with a 10-3 conference record, 17-7 overall. Capel, like most coaches, went hard digging in the transfer portal last off-season. Pitt managed to grab a fifth year senior in guard Gregg Eliott — who wasn’t even a major contributor in his career at Marquette. Capel secured guard Nelly Cummings, coming from mid-major Colgate, and center Federiko Federiko out of JUCO Northern Oklahoma. Arguably, Capel’s biggest signing was forward Blake Hinson, who transferred from Ole Miss — but hadn’t played in two years. 

None of these new Panthers were top-rated players in the transfer portal last off-season. Jeff Capel managed to extract success with this bunch of players through belief and hard work, not NIL deals.

Boeheim was quick to issue an apology to ESPN, saying that he “shouldn’t” have included Pitt and Wake Forest in his rant about the recent rise in Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) deals.

Capel had no immediate comments to make about Boeheim’s remarks, but the two did hold a private conversation about the topic. Capel expressed little concern about the NIL. Instead, he remained focused on improving his team.

“Again, I haven’t really thought about NIL that much,” Capel said. “I’m trying to think about our team, and how we can get better. That’s it. I really haven’t given it much thought.”

Boeheim’s message wasn’t necessarily wrong, as the NIL is a debatable topic. But Boeheim, of all people, has little room to talk about the unfairness of the NIL. This comes from a program whose biggest basketball booster, Adam Weistman, offered to pay a 5-star basketball recruit $1 million annually. Boeheim also dealt with his own issues at Syracuse, serving a suspension and having wins stripped for NCAA violations — one of them dealing with players receiving money. 

And this isn’t the first time in college sports that the old guard struggled to accept the new changes dealing with the NIL. Alabama Head football coach Nick Saban was a big critic and quite outspoken about the NIL and its influence over players.

“A&M bought every player on their team — made a deal for name, image, and likeness,” Saban said. “We didn’t buy one player. But I don’t know if we’re going to continue this trend in the future because more and more people are doing it.”

Again, another legendary coach in their respective sport who is not afraid to call out teams by their name when they feel cheated. However, this is college sports now. We are in the era of college players making money, and older generations of coaches need to accept this. 

Boeheim will most likely have the chance to watch the Panthers play in March this season, as Syracuse is unlikely to make the tournament. This will leave him with plenty of time to think about using the NIL or transfer portal for his team next season.