Time of Yahoo! Syracuse Report Brings Back Bad Memories For This Tribe Fan

Yesterday afternoon, the great investigative reporting crew over at Yahoo! Sports dropped another bomb on a college sports program. Charles Robinson, of the Miami Football program takedown fame, and Pat Forde, a longtime veteran reporter who is amongst the top of his profession, published a story on the Syracuse Basketball program and its decade of ignoring failed drug tests. The gist of the report from Yahoo!:

Over the course of a three-month investigation, four sources with intimate knowledge of the Syracuse men’s basketball program told Yahoo! Sports at least 10 players since 2001 have tested positive for a banned recreational substance or substances. The sources said all 10 of those players were allowed to practice and play at times when they should have been suspended by the athletic department, including instances when some players may not have known of their own ineligibility. The four sources said Syracuse violated its drug policy in at least two areas: failing to properly count positive tests; and playing ineligible players after they should have been subject to suspension.

The complete report was well done and has some good reporting and sourcing behind it, but I can’t help but be bothered by the timing of it all. This is the start of Championship Week. The conference tournaments are in full swing and the day before the Big East Tournament is set to begin, the Yahoo! report implicating an institutional failure inside of the Big East’s regular season champion and the #2 team in the nation, the 30-1 Syracuse Orange.

This story wasn’t leaked out. Forde told Brent Axe of Syracuse.com “There was no thought given to the timing” of the report. The story was completed by the authors and published.  Forde can tell us this all he wants, but the timing of this is just wrong in my opinion. It bears striking resemblance of something that happened back during the 2007 Baseball playoffs that still bothers me to this day.

On the morning of Game Seven of the American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians, a story was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle that Indians starting pitcher Paul Byrd had spent nearly $25,000 on the drug HGH during a three -year period, before the drug was banned by MLB. This was a distraction that the Indians just did not need heading into their most important game in six years. Though Byrd wasn’t the starting pitcher that day, the entire team and organization had to deal with something they shouldn’t have. Byrd, to his credit came right out, met with the national media, and admitted that the report was true.

The report had to have leaked from somewhere inside of the MLB offices. Only a few people were privy to this information. One of them was George Mitchell, baseball drug investigator and author of the famous “Mitchell Report” that “named names” and busted open the steroid era. At the time the report was leaked, Mitchell happened to be a front office director, and part owner of the Red Sox. Of course, the former Senator denied having anything to do with the leak. It bears repeating: the Byrd report came out the DAY OF GAME SEVEN OF THE AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES.

Before my days at WFNY, I had my own blog called  My Teams Are Cursed. Two days after the Indians lost Game Seven in Boston with the infamous “Skinner Stop Sign” opening the flood gates for a Tribe collapse, I let loose on Mitchell and MLB for allowing the report to go public that day:

What a fool and a fraud George Mitchell is. The man that Bud Selig put in charge of investigating steroid use in baseball is lying today. He says he did not leak the Paul Byrd HGH story to the SF Chronicle. Oh, ok George.. so who did then? Scribes around MLB have said it for months that leaks have come out of Mitchell’s office when players like Troy Glaus and Gary Matthews Jr. have been named as HGH users. Now, Byrd gets fingered the DAY OF GAME 7 and all of the sudden Mitchell has to backtrack and say he knows nothing? Hmmm. Mitchell is a part-owner and Director of…. THE RED SOX!!! Same team that Byrd’s Indians were facing Sunday in Game 7. How come Mitchell has had to backtrack today and come out and deny it? Because he has been BUSTED!! Another great move by Selig– to appoint a man who is a Red Sox homer and slappy and part-owner. Yeah, that is fair. have any Sox been named as steroid or HGH users or buyers? Of course not. Mitchell would never let that happen. He’s covering his own ass as a member of the team. Sick dude. Hey, still doesn’t change the outcome, Red Sox beat the Tribe fair and square. But Sunday’s report was Horse bleep.

Whether the Syracuse story is true or not (Head Coach Jim Boeheim let off a classic blast when asked about it – “I have no comment. Have fun with your story.” )you just know that Boeheim and the entire Syracuse athletic department is livid over the timing of all of this. This story could have very easily been held until after the season was over. It wasn’t. Now the team will have to deal with yet another distraction in a season full of them. Remember, it was back in November when the season had just begun when the Bernie Fine molestation allegations came to light.

The NCAA issued a statement last night:

“Syracuse University appropriately self-reported possible violations to the NCAA several months ago and we currently have an ongoing investigation.”

So this story is published on the eve of the Big East Tournament, yet the NCAA already was aware of this and have an on-going investigation under way? I just can’t understand why Forde, Robinson, and Yahoo! chose now to put this story out to the public. It just stirred up all of those ill feelings and bad memories from the Byrd leak back in 2007.  It remains to be seen how this will affect the Orange as they head into the Big East and NCAA Tournaments.


  • MrCleaveland

    TD, you’re suspicious of the “timing”? Come on. You say the reporters should have sat on the story until after the season. Isn’t that like a cover-up? Don’t you think people would question the “timing” of concealing this story until after the season? Isn’t that even more suspicious than this?

    Do you think the reporters have it in for Syracuse? Do you think they are deliberately trying to sabotage the Orange? Do you think it’s the media’s job to protect teams from distractions?

    What would you say if it turns out that the media sat on the Saints bounty story until after the playoffs?

    Jim Boeheim is a big boy. If he can’t handle this, that’s his fault.

  • TD

    1. Yes I am suspicious of the timing. It just so happened that the story was finished the day before the Big East Tournament? 

    2. Yes, there is a strong anti-Syracuse sentiment among the media because of the huge horde of Syracuse media that dominates the landscape. 

    3. As for the Saints, if it was held until now and not leaked before the playoffs, I wouldnt care. That is a non-story to me anyways because the NFL is so hypocritical in regards to big hits. 

    4. I agree. Boeheim can handle it. I think if he wins it all this year, he’s retiring. 

    thanks for reading and responding! 

  • MrCleaveland

    We agree to disagree.

    It would be unethical to sit on this story in order to protect Syracuse.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    “Pat Forde…who is amongst the top of his profession”

    Oh TD, I can’t thank you enough. That’s the best laugh I’ve had in quite a while.

  • http://twitter.com/GHClevelandSprt Mike Stein

    What about when they leaked that Delonte was sleeping with LeBron’s mom right before the playoffs when the Cavs had their best chance to win?????

  • Steve

    “Yes, there is a strong anti-Syracuse sentiment among the media because of the huge horde of Syracuse media that dominates the landscape”

    This is a hilarious conspiracy theory. Good luck with this one. Why are we attacking the people who told the story instead of the people who broke the rules? Maybe Syracuse, and Byrd, and whoever else has had similar happen to them could have followed the rules and been up front about any issues instead of waiting for a report to be leaked.

  • http://twitter.com/GreatestHurley Jason Hurley

    TD – just so I’m clear – is your thought that either: a) This investigation was completed long ago, and the release was timed to the Big East tournament, and therefore is suspect/deserving of criticism?

    or possibly b) That the piece was recently completed, and shouldn’t have been released until after some period of time (the NCAA championship, perhaps)?

  • mgbode

    I think this is being taken the wrong way by some of the commentors IMO.

    The way I read it, all TD was saying is that the media is using the big stage of the Big East tournament to heighten the appetite for this story, which Syracuse self-reported months ago.  That it is unlikely that the report “happened to complete” right at this time as Yahoo! claims.

    Boeheim was apart of the report, so I have little (really no) sympathy towards him.  But, the self-reported violations supposedly did not include any of the current Bball players.  if that is true, then we are once again punishing current players for past player sins (in real-time — not just sanctions next year but the headache of the now).

    If this report comes out a month ago, then it wouldn’t have mattered to the team as much (the regular season in college bball is nearly worthless anyway).   Just my thoughts.

  • Steve

    Again, just don’t commit the offense in the first place. Or be forthright and first in admitting fault, instead of waiting to be outed by another source. It’s Syracuse’s choice to keep this out of the media, but if they choose to do so, they don’t get to control the story if the media does find out. Sounds completely fair to me.

    And I don’t buy that media stories affect play between the lines as much as most people seem to do, apparently. Boeheim and his players have known about this report and that it was going to come out eventually. Despite this sword of Damocles hanging over their head all season, they’ve managed to play pretty well, wouldn’t you say? 

  • http://usb3gvn.com USB 3G

    I thought it was going to be some boring old post, but it really compensated for my time. I will post a link to this page on my blog.  

  • porkchpxprss

    I agree that sitting on the story is unethical and things have to come out when they do.  On the other hand as has been mentioned if there was planning to let the story break just as the Big East Tourney starts in order to maximize readership/profits that too is unethical.  The reporters are doing their job by reporting the story, but they also need to be held accountable if they allowed profit potential to determine when the story broke.

  • porkchpxprss

    TD just wanted to thank you for pissing me right the heck off this morning by bringing up ’07.  The whole thing is even more of a joke because Manny and Ortiz were both using at the time and somehow it didn’t come out until years later.

    Maybe you guys could just start piece called Kick a Cleveland Fan in the gut.  Its real simple every morning pick a random story from the Cleveland Sports Hopper of Misery, and post it just to remind us who we are :)  

  • mgbode

    you mean like Rashard Lewis steroid/HGH usage not coming out when Orlando was beating us but magically being reported once they were set to play the Lakers?

  • mgbode

    Boeheim knew, of course.  But, why would his players know when none of them were on the report?  

    They had their own issues to deal with this season (between the asst. Fine mess, Fab Melo’s drama, etc.) and have played admirably in spite of it.  So yes, it is quite possible this does not affect them either.  However, the offcourt does affect the oncourt.  It’s just different for every player/team on how much and whether it’s positive or negative.

  • Steve

     I’m assuming that it wasn’t kept a secret, or even if it was, it would be hard to hide (which proved to be true). And while I agree that the offcourt can affect the oncourt, I’m going to need to see something substantial to back that up. So far, all the evidence is pointing to the idea that it doesn’t make a lick of difference to the Syracuse players.