Syracuse introduced Adrian Autry as the school's new head men's basketball coach at a Friday news conference and gave clarity on the awkward exit of coach Jim Boeheim earlier this week. On Wednesday, the school abruptly announced Boeheim would not return after 47 seasons as coach.
Boeheim addressed the media Friday and used the word "retired" to describe his departure, a distinction the university did not make in its announcement of the coaching transition. Athletic director John Wildhack said that Boeheim informing the team he wouldn't be back a few hours after the ACC tournament loss to Wake Forest prompted the school to announce his departure. He reiterated that a handoff to Autry, an Orange assistant since 2011, has long been the plan.
Boeheim was a mix of sentimental and sarcastic in reflecting on his departure from the school. He said he didn't think a lot about retirement until a four-game losing streak late in the season, which led him to believe "this was the time." He said he met with school officials for 45 minutes Thursday to work out "the basics" of what his role would be with the school moving forward.
"I'm so thrilled to be at this university and continue," Boeheim said. "... I wouldn't know what else to do anyway."
Boeheim added that he's "thrilled to be retired" and said he has felt better the past two days than he has "in the last 47 years."
Boeheim did get emotional reflecting on his family, the former players and the fans who trudged through winter weather all those years to attend games at Manley Field House and Syracuse's dome. He also expressed his appreciation for the city and the school and called any notion that the school didn't treat him right as "not true." Boeheim, 78, came to Syracuse in 1962 as a walk-on and is proud that he has never left.
"I'm probably most happy that I'll never leave here," Boeheim said, emotion cracking his voice. "I'll never leave Syracuse, and I'll never leave Syracuse University."
Boeheim gave a resounding endorsement of Autry, 51, saying Autry's coaching acumen is strong enough that he doesn't need a veteran head coach on the bench. Boeheim said the program is being left "in the best of hands." Wildhack said he did not run a national search to replace Boeheim because Autry "earned this" opportunity.
Autry, a 1994 Syracuse graduate, flashed a halogen grin at the podium but got choked up when reflecting on what Boeheim has meant to his career. He appeared comfortable in the spotlight, joking with the players in attendance that none had missed class to attend the news conference.
Autry chuckled when asked about deviating from the program's hallmark 2-3 zone, saying he'll want his team to be versatile and play whatever gives it the best chance to win.
"I am a new voice, a new face with new ideas," Autry said. "But the standards that have helped build this program will not change."