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Jim Boeheim joins college basketball’s exclusive 900-wins fraternity

In his 37th season at Syracuse, Jim Boeheim now looks to overtake Bobby Knight (902 wins) on the list of all-time winningest coaches. Jim Boeheim is also chasing Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who currently has 936 wins.

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Such a spacious facility can mean large crowds, but only if the team wins. It easily could become an empty cavern, but Boeheim has managed to turn what is really a football stadium into the place to be in central New York’s snow belt. Not surprisingly, the Carrier Dome court was named “Jim Boeheim Court” in 2002.

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The pressure to succeed probably is what landed Syracuse in the NCAA doghouse in 1993, when it was put on probation for two years for recruiting violations.

Whatever short-term embarrassment that caused, the program has brought much national recognition to the university.

Three times the basketball team made it to the NCAA championship game, winning it in 2003 by beating Kansas, 81-78. Before that, it lost to Indiana in 1987 on a heartbreaking last-minute shot, and to Kentucky in 1996.

Although not known as a high-voltage coaching personality, Boeheim has earned the respect of the basketball community. He has served as president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches Association, and in 2005 he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. Fittingly, it was in Springfield, against Harvard, that Boeheim notched his first coaching win in 1976.

Boeheim is not afraid to speak his mind, and earlier this year was roundly criticized after quickly coming to the defense of Bernie Fine, a longtime assistant at Syracuse who was accused of child molestation. Federal authorities eventually dropped the case saying there wasn’t enough evidence to support the charges.

After win No. 900 Boeheim addressed another hot-button issue: the gun-control controversy swirling around the Newtown, Conn., school shootings. “If we cannot get people who represent us to do something about firearms, we are a sad, sad society,” he remarked.

He also has expressed his displeasure with all the scrambling that has occurred recently as college teams have realigned in conferences driven by TV considerations, not geography.

Even Syracuse, an anchor of the Big East Conference since the league’s founding in 1979, is moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

As Boeheim pithily put his disillusionment, “If [conference commissioners] were running the United States in colonial times, Brazil and Argentina would be states because they have something we need.”

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