SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim isn't on board with paying college athletes.
Speaking Wednesday in Syracuse at an annual Associated Press meeting of New York newspaper editors, Boeheim said he's heard the most recent talk about paying college athletes and doesn't agree with it one bit.
"That's really the most idiotic suggestion of all time," Boeheim said. "I don't believe players should be paid. I believe they are getting a tremendous opportunity."
Boeheim took exception with retired NBA star Chris Webber's complaint he received nothing after his team shirt was sold. In a documentary released earlier this year, Webber lamented that while a student-athlete at Michigan, his team jersey sold in a campus store for $75 without any money going to him.
Boeheim noted that Webber received a free education and the exposure that allowed him to go on to a lucrative professional career.
"He didn't get his $30,000 or $40,000," Boeheim said. "But he got his money."
Boeheim also noted that college athletes who demonstrate a financial need are awarded Pell grants that can be $6-$7,000 on top of the free tuition, room, board and at least a half-dozen pairs of athletic shoes a year.
Boeheim is preparing for his 38th season with the Orange, a team that made the Final Four last season for the fourth time since 1976. The school officially joined the Atlantic Coast Conference on July 1, leaving the Big East.
With Duke and North Carolina on the schedule now, Boeheim assured fans that new rivalries will blossom. He pointed out that before the Big East formed on May 31, 1979, by far the biggest game of the year for Syracuse was against in-state foe St. Bonaventure. He figures fans will forgive the fact that Georgetown is not on the schedule this year when they see 35,000 people in the Carrier Dome for Duke on Feb. 1.
"It's a great league," he said. "I think this league will be the greatest basketball league ever."
Syracuse and Georgetown plan to continue the rivalry going forward, and former Big East rivals Villanova and St. John's remain on the schedule for the upcoming season.