A Yahoo! Sports investigation into the Syracuse basketball reveals the university has allegedly allowed players that returned positive drug tests to play when they shouldn’t have been eligible on repeated occasions.
The three-month inquiry into Jim Boeheim’s team looked at the past decade, which has seen the Orange catapult into a national powerhouse, but hasn’t been free of discipline problems.
Over the course of a three-month investigation, four sources with intimate knowledge of the Syracuse men’s basketball program told Yahoo! Sports at least 10 players since 2001 have tested positive for a banned recreational substance or substances. The sources said all 10 of those players were allowed to practice and play at times when they should have been suspended by the athletic department, including instances when some players may not have known of their own ineligibility. The four sources said Syracuse violated its drug policy in at least two areas: failing to properly count positive tests; and playing ineligible players after they should have been subject to suspension.
A fifth source, a former Syracuse basketball player, told Yahoo! Sports he was questioned by the NCAA regarding the school’s drug testing policy. It is unknown whether the positive tests or potential NCAA investigation affect the current Syracuse basketball team, which is 30-1 and ranked No. 2 in the nation under Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim. However, four sources said the breadth of potential violations could apply to Syracuse seasons as far back as 2001 and include the 2002-03 national championship season.
The NCAA declined immediate comment when reached by Yahoo! Sports Monday. Boeheim also declined comment.
Such malfeasance, if proven, would put the 2002-2003 national championship at risk.
If Syracuse knowingly violated its own drug policies, it could trigger the NCAA’s “Willful Violators” clause, which allows the association to bypass its four-year statute of limitations in favor of levying sanctions as far back as the first in a series of continued infractions. A willful violation is considered one that occurs during a pattern of deliberate or intentional rule-breaking.
That, of course, is jumping way ahead. But there’s no doubt that this news, coming out on the eve of the Big East Tournament, is not good news for a team poised to compete for the national title.