New York’s best college basketball team is in trouble … with itself. Syracuse University self-imposed a postseason ban on Feb. 4 in response to potential allegations about events from 2007-2012. The university announced that it would not compete in the ACC Tournament, NCAA Tournament or National Invitational Tournament. The NCAA might have been considering a lengthy investigation into past infractions with former center Fab Melo. The school decided to punish itself in light of the allegations, hoping for lighter treatment from the NCAA. The irony is that adding a punishment this year does not nearly mean as much as it would other years.
Syracuse is 16-8 overall, 7-4 in ACC play and currently far outside of the top 25. Punishing itself at this point in time is rather humorous due to the unlikelihood that the team will even make the postseason. The punishment will potentially prevent future penalties for teams with a better chance to win a championship.
No punishment is ever good, but the timing of Syracuse’s ban is best for the school and its basketball program. The team is in a state of rebuilding for the future. Enforcing a postseason ban this year will likely eliminate the need for an NCAA penalty on the university, ultimately allowing for more success in the future. Syracuse already has one of the top recruiting classes along with a solid group of returning players. The Orange are set up for a deep tournament run in the very near future.
The worst part of the punishment is that it will affect the innocent ones the most—no current student-athlete is involved in any allegations. The current roster consists of players who were in high school and junior high school when the alleged offenses were committed. The university was selfish in that they acted in the best interest for themselves, rather than the men on the court who actually put in the hard work and dedication.
Syracuse could have waited until the offseason to self-impose a ban for the 2016 season. By doing that, the current seniors would have been able to finish their careers on the right note and returning players would be given the choice to stay or transfer. Instead, the school has robbed its current players of the chance to fight for an NCAA Tournament bid and has left them with little to play for in the coming weeks. It remains to be seen, however, if the self-imposed sanctions will actually satisfy the NCAA. Only time will tell whether or not the organization will punish them further.
Either way, Syracuse has seven more games––four of which are at home. Five of the team’s games are against a ranked opponent. After Syracuse’s last game at North Carolina State University on March 7, the rest of the month will be strangely quiet for ‘Cuse.