Greensboro, N.C. – Jim Boeheim might or might not have announced his retirement from coaching Wednesday.
The Syracuse basketball coach, in his 47th year, said after his Orange lost a heartbreaking 77-74 game to Wake Forest that it was up to the university about whether he would return for a 48th year.
In a fascinating, bewildering postgame question and answer period, Boeheim sounded very much like a man who might like to retire, but doesn’t know what his employer might have in store for him.
He mentioned Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski, former coaching peers who have segued from the bench to different positions in their universities. He seemed amenable to a similar spot at SU.
Boeheim reminisced about his time in Syracuse, calling himself lucky to have endured in the same job at his alma mater for as long as he has. He talked, again, about his love for the city. He talked about being able to coach his two sons, Buddy and Jimmy, last season. He loved that team, he told us. He believed it was a healthy Jesse Edwards away from a better 2021-22 outcome.
He talked about the promise he made to his six freshmen on the recruiting trail: He told them he would coach them at least one season. And he has.
“I wanted to come back and coach these guys, and that’s what I was able to do. The university hasn’t offered me anything, whether to work or do anything at the university. That’s their choice,” he said.
“It was great to see Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, and Roy Williams at North Carolina and Mike Brey is going to work for Notre Dame. That’s great. I haven’t had any conversations about that. I hope that we will. But I’ve just been lucky to be able to coach this long.”
Boeheim said, too, that he’d given his retirement speech last week and nobody except William Payne, the team chaplain and mentor to SU’s players, noticed. Payne, a pastor by trade, has talked over the years about observing body language and intuiting what’s going on with people.
After all of that, the Syracuse coach was asked if he wanted to come back as Syracuse’s coach next season.
Q. Are you saying right now that you’re going to retire?
JIM BOEHEIM: This is up to the university.
Q. You want to come back?
JIM BOEHEIM: I didn’t say that.
Q. So what are you saying? You’re not saying you’re retiring —
JIM BOEHEIM: I just said it. I don’t know.
Q. So you don’t know?
JIM BOEHEIM: I said this is up to the university.
Q. How will you make a determination about when you will come back?
JIM BOEHEIM: You’re talking to the wrong guy.
Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack was at Wednesday’s game, but was not available to speak with reporters afterward. SU referred questions for Wildhack to its general media relations office.
Herman Frazier, SU’s Senior Deputy Athletics Director who travels with the Orange basketball team and appears at every home game, said any comment from the university — including Boeheim’s contract status — would have to come from Wildhack.
Boeheim began his postgame remarks Wednesday with an assessment of the game. His voice quivered a bit before he eased into the rest of his comments.
He talked about the Big Retirement Question in an easy, measured voice.
Benny Williams and Jesse Edwards flanked Boeheim on the dais. Nobody in the Syracuse locker room was quite sure what to make of their coach’s remarks.
“I was confused, just like y’all. I have no clue what he’s gonna do, just like you guys,” Williams said later. “If you ask anybody in this locker room, they know just as much as you guys, too. Just sitting around, waiting on it, see what happens.”
He was asked whether he wanted Boeheim to return as Syracuse’s coach.
“Yeah, for sure,” he said. “It’s Coach Boeheim.”