Syracuse introduced Adrian Autry as the school’s new men’s basketball coach at a press conference Friday, adding to the awkward departure of coach Jim Boeheim earlier this week. The school suddenly announced Wednesday that Boeheim will not return after 47 seasons as coach.
Beiheim spoke to the media on Friday and used the word “retired” to describe his departure, which the university did not specify in its statement about the coaching transition. Athletic director John Wildhack said Boeheim’s announcement hours after the team’s ACC Tournament loss to Wake Forest prompted the school to announce his departure. He reiterated that since 2011, it had been the long-standing plan to hand over the Orange assistant to Autry.
Boeheim was a mix of sentimental and sarcastic when reflecting on leaving school. He said he didn’t think much about retirement until a four-game losing streak at the end of the season, which convinced him “it was time.” He met with school leaders for 45 minutes Thursday to lay out the “basics” of his role in moving the school forward.
“I’m very happy to be at this university and to continue,” Boeheim said. “…Even so, I don’t know what else to do.
Boeheim added that he was “happy to retire” and said he felt better in the last two days than he had “in the last 47 years.”
Boeheim emotionally reflected on his family, former players and fans who have braved winter weather over the years to attend games at Manly Field House and the Syracuse Dome. He also expressed his gratitude to the city and the school and called any notion that the school did not treat him right “not true.” Boeheim, 78, was a walk-on at Syracuse in 1962 and is proud to say he never left.
“I’m so glad I’m never going to leave here,” Boeheim said, his voice cracking. “I will never leave Syracuse and I will never leave Syracuse University.”
Boeheim gave a strong endorsement of Autry, 51, saying Autry’s coaching skills are strong enough that he doesn’t need a veteran head coach on the bench. Boeheim said the program is in “good hands.” Wildhack said he did not conduct a national search for Boeheim’s replacement because Autry “got that opportunity.”
Autry, a 1994 graduate of Syracuse, flashed a halogen smile at the podium, but Boeheim choked up as he thought about what it meant to his career. He seemed comfortable in the spotlight, joking with the players in attendance that none of them missed class to attend the press conference.
Autry laughed when asked about the program’s departure from the 2-3 zone, saying he wants his team to be versatile and play whatever gives them the best chance to win.
“I’m a new voice, a new face with new ideas,” Autry said. “But the standards that helped build this program will not change.”