One might have expected Jim Boeheim would be short-tempered – his Syracuse team had just suffered a disappointing 66-58 loss to unranked UConn – but he didn’t seem that way at all. Rather than slam his own team’s effort, he began his press conference by praising Connecticut effusively, and even saying his own team played well defensively, but UConn was just a bit better on this night. It’s about as gracious as you’d ever expect to see a coach after a tough loss.
And then… ESPN’s Andy Katz asked a question. It comes at the 1:25 mark below, but if you watch up until then, you’ll see what we mean about there being no advance warning for what happens then:
“Idiot.” “Disloyal person.” Hmm, yes, it is unfortunate that Jim Boeheim’s personal spokesman, Andy Katz, was disloyal to his employer… oh, that’s right, he’s not a Jim Boeheim spokesman, he’s a reporter… and not one at all notorious, to my knowledge, for making enemies. And this apparently isn’t a recent thing, either: ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said in a statement that Boeheim hasn’t spoken to Katz in over a year, and that Katz doesn’t know why. (Katz, for the record, hasn’t addressed the snub/petty name-calling himself.)
So… what the hell actually did cause Boeheim to lay into Katz, if Katz himself doesn’t know? There was some speculation that it was about Katz reporting off-the-record information about Syracuse forward James Southerland, which, we’ll admit, would have earned Katz a rebuke. The problem: that idea was quickly squashed – after all, Southerland wasn’t an object of controversy until early this year, whereas Boeheim’s problems with Katz supposedly go back to late 2011.
Others thought it had something to do with the Bernie Fine allegations – perhaps this story by Katz in particular. But the tone of that piece wasn’t critical of Boeheim. It wasn’t entirely flattering, but it was far, far from anything resembling a hit piece.
So all we know for sure is what Boeheim did – and what Boeheim did was, in the absence of any more definitive reason for why, come off like a spoiled kid who doesn’t get things exactly the way he wants one time in a decades-long, accolade-filled career, so he throws a tantrum about it. “Idiot,” “disloyal” – that’s not a professional beef, that’s a personal one – an entirely misplaced personal one, since Katz is, once again, a reporter, whose job description isn’t “flatter Jim Boeheim all the time.”
Yes, it feels a little circle-jerky to be weighing in on a coach’s treatment of a media member as a nominal member of “the media,” but look: Boeheim clearly has a big problem with Katz. Instead of calling him names in front of everyone, he should say what it is. He doesn’t have to name specific names or specific incidents, but he can do something like this. This is one of the more complex coach-goes-after-reporter tirades we’ve seen in a while – but unless Boeheim shares a really good reason for saying what he said, we’re inclined to assume petulance.