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Honoring a Legend

Jim Boeheim Day recognizes the most successful coach in Syracuse basketball history.
Jim Boeheim at a podium.

On Feb. 24, 2024, Syracuse University said thank you to longtime men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim ’66, G’73. More than 25,000 fans, friends and former players converged on the JMA Wireless Dome to celebrate Jim Boeheim Day, punctuated by the Orange’s win over Notre Dame.

Festivities included an emotional postgame ceremony, emceed by NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico ’88, where the University announced plans for the Jim Boeheim Entrance to the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center and hoisted a banner acknowledging Boeheim’s accomplishments.

Current members of the men’s basketball program, led by Head Coach Adrian Autry ’94, also presented the Hall of Famer with a commissioned painting.

Boeheim led the Orange for 47 years, netting 35 NCAA tournament appearances, 20 Sweet 16s, five Final Fours and the 2003 national championship.

Synonymous with Grit

Jim Boeheim Day was full of stories, gifts and proclamations. Chancellor Kent Syverud and his wife, Dr. Ruth Chen, presented a plaque signifying the establishment of the Jim Boeheim ’66 Central New York Scholarship. The newly endowed scholarship supports undergraduates with demonstrated financial need, particularly those residing in the Central New York and Finger Lakes regions.

Jim Boeheim talking with Chancellor Kent Syverud and Dr. Ruth Chen.

Dr. Ruth Chen and Chancellor Kent Syverud (right) recognize the establishment of the Jim Boeheim ’66 Central New York Scholarship.

New York Gov. Kathleen Hochul ’80 was a first-year student in 1976, when Boeheim took the helm of the Orange. “I’ll never forget the thrill of being in the ‘Manley Zoo’ and watching you coach a generation of stars,” she said. “You’ve built a program synonymous with grit, determination and that iconic two-three zone.”

Declarations proclaiming Jim Boeheim Day were issued by New York State Assembly member Bill Magnarelli ’70, L’73; New York State Sen. John Mannion; Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon; and Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh G’05.

The Game Within the Game

Some 50 former players, assistant coaches and managers turned out for Jim Boeheim Day, which recalled many career highlights. Winning it all against Kansas in 2003. Defeating Georgia in overtime in the 1996 Sweet 16. Reaching the Final Four as a double-digit seed in 2016. Besting UConn, after six overtimes, in the 2009 Big East quarterfinals.

Jim Boeheim and Adrian Autry smiling and talking.

Head Coach Adrian Autry ’94 honors his mentor and predecessor with a commissioned painting.

All this, on top of collecting six gold medals and two bronze medals as a longtime assistant coach of the USA Basketball Men’s Olympic Team.

“He taught me how to play the game within the game,” said Lawrence Moten ’95, the Orange’s all-time leading scorer. “Coach Boeheim was a great motivator but let me keep my own pace.”

From Walk-On to Hall of Famer

Boeheim has bled Orange since 1962, when he joined the basketball program as a walk-on. The upstate New York native was promoted to captain his senior year and along with teammate and roommate David Bing ’66, H’06, turned the Orange into a national powerhouse.

It’s fitting that Boeheim also began coaching at Syracuse. After seven years of assisting on the sidelines, he was promoted to head coach of the men’s basketball program in 1976. Success followed.

Jim Boeheim and David Bing sitting.

Boeheim flanked by NBA Hall of Famer David Bing ’66, H’06 (with hat) and wife, Juli G’97.

The second-winningest coach in NCAA men’s basketball history, Boeheim is a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and Syracuse Athletics’ Ring of Honor. He’s also received the John R. Wooden Award “Legends of Coaching” honor.

In January, Boeheim inducted Bing into the Ring of Honor. Said the NBA Hall of Famer and former Detroit mayor of Boeheim: “I’m happy to have known him. I’m happy to have played with him. I’m happy to have roomed with him. We’ve got a great relationship.”

A Commitment to Community

Former hoops standout Howard Triche ’87 lauded Boeheim’s sense of social responsibility. “I try to emulate the things he’s taught me,” said the Syracuse-based business consultant.

Jim Boeheim and John Wildhack standing together.

Boeheim and Director of Athletics John Wildhack ’80 (right).

When not serving as special assistant to Director of Athletics John Wildhack ’80, Boeheim champions many charitable causes. He’s also co-founder of the Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation, which strives to enrich the lives of local children and support the elimination of cancer through research and advocacy.

“Thank you for giving me a life that nobody could have asked for,” Boeheim said.

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