The Syracuse University athletics department will begin the long process of filing appeals with the NCAA following the sanctions that were announced on Friday, with Jim Boeheim reportedly filing a separate appeal to have his nine game suspension lifted and some of his vacated wins restored. With that in mind, what are the chances that Syracuse will actually win its appeals?
It’s hard to say, in large part because the NCAA doesn’t have a particularly clear pattern when it comes to its sanctions or the appeals filed by schools. On the surface, Syracuse would appear to have a good case to win its appeals, particularly given the seemingly disproportionate punishments in relation to the violations committed.
Syracuse has already released an extensive defense of the allegations, and it seems that the Orange administration is poised for a fight. Following a strong statement from Syracuse Chancellor Kent Syverud, along with the fact that the University has already set up a webpage dedicated to any updates with the fallout of the NCAA ruling, Syracuse appears to be doing an admirable job quickly circling the wagons.
Obviously, it’ll take more than just strongly worded statements and allegation by allegation defense, but Syracuse is off to an excellent start. Still, as I mentioned, the NCAA doesn’t have a particularly clear pattern for which appeals are going to win, and which aren’t.
Two of the most notorious recent scandals involving NCAA schools are Penn State, and Southern California. Penn State’s sanctions were, at the time, considered to be a near death penalty due to the loss of scholarships and postseason bans following the Jerry Sandusky scandal. However, with the help of some powerful political friends, Penn State is basically back to normal after having the postseason ban lifted and its scholarships restored. Additionally, the NCAA has restored all of the wins that had previously been vacated by Joe Paterno.
By comparison, this should give Syracuse fans hope considering that the criminal acts that took place are vastly worse than the transgressions at SU. After all, while Syracuse committed some violations including players competing despite being ineligible due to failed drug tests and academic fraud, it pales in comparison to the findings of the Freeh report with regard to the cover up at Penn State.
On the other side of the aisle, however, is USC. The Trojans have been battling some stiff penalties since 2010, stemming from violations dating back to Pete Carroll’s days as the head coach of the football team. USC fired its then-athletics director Mike Garret as a show of good faith, but the NCAA denied the school’s appeal to dial down the sanctions in 2013. The denied appeal, incidentally, came at almost the exact same time that the NCAA first decided to reduce the penalties against Penn State.
At the end of the day, it’s too early to determine how strong Syracuse’s case to appeal will turn out to be, but on the surface it would appear that the University is in good shape. It certainly helps that numerous members of the national media, including Jay Bilas – who, we should remember, is a practicing lawyer – as well as Jim Boeheim’s peers have publicly stated that our penalties are far too drastic in comparison to the actions they’re punishing.
The NCAA doesn’t exactly have a stellar record of consistency when it comes to doling out sanctions or handling appeals, of course. The organization isn’t particularly quick to reduce sanctions, and it will certainly be a long, hard battle for Syracuse University. Still, the speed with which the University organized its defense and the quality of the work being done by Syverud and SU’s legal team so far is promising.
Now all we can do is sit back, wait, and maybe gripe a little bit about the fact that the guy in charge of the NCAA, Mark Emmert, has a history of being just as morally corrupt as the schools he’s attempting to punish in his role as NCAA president.