Basketball Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim’s 47-year tenure as coach at Syracuse came to awkward end on Wednesday, with the university saying Orange assistant Adrian Autry has been promoted to the job.
The move came less than three hours after Syracuse lost to Wake Forest in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, after which Boeheim hinted at retirement but said it would ultimately be the university’s decision.
Then came the news from the school: “Today, as his 47th season coaching his alma mater comes to an end, so too does his storied career at Syracuse University. Associate Head Coach Adrian Autry ’94, one of Boeheim’s former players and longtime assistant, has been named the program’s next head coach.”
Autry has been on Boeheim’s staff since 2011, and held the title of associate head coach since March 2017.
The 78-year-old Boeheim’s record in his 47 seasons, officially, was 1,015-441. That reflects 101 wins taken away by the NCAA for violations between the 2004-07 and 2010-12 seasons.
Whether the count was 1,015 or 1,116, only now-retired Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski had more wins than Boeheim at the Division I level.
“As I’ve said from day one when I started working here, the university hired me, and it’s their choice what they want to do,” Boeheim said Thursday afternoon. “I always have the choice of retirement, but it’s their decision as to whether I coach or not. It always has been. Again, I’ve been very lucky to be able to coach my college team, to play and then be an assistant coach and then a head coach, never having to leave Syracuse. It’s a great university.”
It was a confusing final news conference, with Boeheim hinting at retirement and hinting that he’d want to return.
Clarity came not long afterward. And for the first time since 1976, someone other than Boeheim is now the head coach of the Orange.
Boeheim has been synonymous with Syracuse for more than six decades. He was born in the Central New York town of Lyons, not far from Syracuse. He enrolled at the school in 1962 as a walk-on, eventually becoming a captain of the then-Orangemen along with Dave Bing.
In 1969 he was hired at Syracuse as a graduate assistant. And in 1976, he took the program over. He has been the face of it since.
“There is no doubt in my mind that without Jim Boeheim, Syracuse Basketball would not be the powerhouse program it is today,” Chancellor Kent Syverud said in a statement distributed by the school. “Jim has invested and dedicated the majority of his life to building this program, cultivating generations of student-athletes and representing his alma mater with pride and distinction. I extend my deep appreciation and gratitude to an alumnus who epitomizes what it means to be ‘Forever Orange.’”
The Orange were 17-15 this season and will miss the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive season. And that led to criticism, which led to questions about Boeheim’s future, and what the school would ultimately decide.