In the midst of a 14-10 season that is trending toward his Syracuse team missing the NCAA Tournament for a second straight year, Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim channeled a little Nick Saban on Saturday after his team's 77-68 win at sub-.500 Boston College.
While lamenting on the state of college basketball and riffing on the topic of retirement to ESPN.com, Boeheim levied commentary against fellow ACC schools that he claims "bought" their teams.
"This is an awful place we're in in college basketball," Boeheim said. "Pittsburgh bought a team. OK, fine. My [big donor] talks about it, but he doesn't give anyone any money. Nothing. Not one guy. Our guys make like $20,000. Wake Forest bought a team. Miami bought a team. ... It's like, 'Really, this is where we are?' That's really where we are, and it's only going to get worse."
Boeheim's cantankerous quotes bring to mind Saban's shot across the bow in the summer of 2022, when he took issue with Texas A&M's No. 1 football recruiting class and said the Aggies "bought every player on their team."
When reached for comment late Saturday night, Wake Forest coach Steve Forbes told CBS Sports of Boeheim's claim: "He's wrong. He's one thousand percent wrong. I don't have one player on my team that got NIL to come here. That's a fact. I've never had a player come here for NIL."
Forbes followed up with CBS Sports on Sunday and said Boeheim reached out to him very early Sunday morning and "walked back" his initial statement about Wake Forest. Boeheim also offered a retraction of his comments on Wake Forest and Pitt to ESPN.com.
Syracuse is yet to play Wake Forest this season; the schools will meet in the regular season finale on March 4 at Syracuse. As for the other two schools mentioned: The Orange lost the first of their two games to Pitt, at home, on Dec. 20. On. Jan. 16, Syracuse lost in its only game of the season to Miami. The Hurricanes' billionaire booster, John Ruiz, openly promoted his Life Wallet business to help land an $800,000 NIL deal with transfer Nijel Pack, a shooting guard averaging 12.2 points for the 18-5 Hurricanes.
Obviously, college players are now allowed to make money off their names, images and likenesses. What Boeheim is alleging isn't necessarily out of bounds; he even admitted to Syracuse players receiving money for NIL deals. It's become part of the pitch for many high-major programs, with schools across the country organizing donor collectives that are permitted under NCAA rules. Boeheim was prompted into his rant based off questioning about the ever-lingering speculation over his retirement.
"It's crazy. That's why those guys got out -- that's why Jay (Wright) got out, Mike (Krzyzewski) got out," Boeheim also told ESPN.com. "The transfer portal and everything is nuts. It really is."
Boeheim, 78, defended his position to not retire based on what he believes is overwhelming support from the local community.
"Ninety-five percent of Syracuse people want me to coach," he said. "Why wouldn't they?"
As for when he'll retire, Boeheim also added, "I know it's my choice. I can do whatever I want. I just don't know for sure."
Boeheim is the oldest head coach in college basketball. He'll be on the sidelines at 79 years old if he returns next season.