Jim Boeheim takes aim at the APR

Jim Boeheim has taken his APR-meted out lumps. Now the coach has a question: How was he supposed to prevent it?

According to the NCAA data released on Wednesday, the Syracuse’ s four-year APR of 912 fell well below the Mendoza line of 925 and, consequently, the Orange were docked two scholarships.

Here’s what the numbers don’t explain: Syracuse’s numbers dipped following the 2008-09 season, when Eric Devendorf, Jonny Flynn and Paul Harris all declared for the NBA draft. All three elected to leave campus immediately -- before completing their spring coursework -- and work out with trainers assigned by their respective agents.

“The statistics don’t show what’s going on -- they were all eligible, on schedule and they made the decision to take off because they believed their futures would be decided by those workouts," Boeheim said. “Am I supposed to handcuff them and make them finish? I was on the APR committee. I’ve talked to people at the NCAA. I’ve talked to our president. I’ve talked to everyone and no one has an answer. No one has an answer for me.’’

Syracuse’s issues reveal an inherent problem with the APR -- namely, it’s often only punitive for the people left behind.

Kevin Lennon, the NCAA’s vice president for membership services, told me recently that the ‘vast majority’ of basketball players finish up their eligibility points before bolting for the NBA.

Still, plenty don’t and the ones left holding the bag are their former teammates and coaches. Realizing that a diploma is a whole lot of credits away, many students are encouraged by their agents to leave and work with trainers at gyms and facilities far away from their college campuses.

Boeheim said since Devendorf, Flynn and Harris all were far from graduating, none felt compelled to finish. Andy Rautins, he said, is finishing up his final six credits now and Wes Johnson already completed his so the Orange won’t take another hit next year.

“It’s flawed,’’ Boeheim said. “There is absolutely nothing a coach can do if a kid wants to leave and train for the NBA. If he was leaving and walking the streets, I’d understand. When these kids left, they were eligible. They opted not to finish.’’

Knowing full well what was coming after its three players left early, Syracuse took its medicine this past season. Boeheim said two walk-ons, who he ordinarily would have awarded scholarships, went without.

“So basically that’s what the APR did –- it kept two walk-ons from getting scholarships,’’ Boeheim said. “That makes a lot of sense.’’