How many more years will Jim Boeheim coach the Syracuse basketball team? Who will succeed him? The answer to the second question depends on the first. Let’s try and answer both.
Jim Boeheim has not in fact been the Syracuse basketball coach forever. It only seems that way. He came to campus in the fall of 1963 as a walk-on candidate and graduated as a team captain. He played in the Eastern League for a few seasons before becoming a Syracuse assistant in 1969 and the head man in 1976. This upcoming season will be Boeheim’s 46th as the Syracuse head coach.
With a changing of the old guard coming to college basketball with the retirement of Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski after this coming season, it’s fair to wonder when Boeheim will retire and what Syracuse’s succession plan is.
In 2015, Syracuse named 20-year assistant coach Mike Hopkins Head Coach-Designate with the plan calling for Hopkins to take over in the fall of 2018. So much for Boeheim’s retirement plans. Hopkins left to take the head coaching job at Washington in the spring of 2017. Boeheim stayed and got the chance to coach his son Buddy. His oldest son Jimmy joins the team this season, transferring from Cornell. The first bit of research for this is whether there are any other Boeheim boys in their Dewitt, NY home. There are not. Wait, daughter Elizabeth from his first marriage is 35- years-old. If she has a son, is it possible? No, Boeheim will not be coaching his grandson.
Boeheim turns 77 this November. When asked if he could coach until he turned 80, Boeheim told Forbes’ Adam Zagoria, “I could. I’m going to try. If it works, it works. They said in 2011-12, I’d be done in two years, so I guess they weren’t right, you know?”
Has Boeheim lost much off his fastball? One of the measurements of that is recruiting. Syracuse is still relevant. I realize most of that falls on the assistants, but the head coach still is the ultimate closer. Other than Duke and Kentucky, most programs don’t bring in four or five McDonald’s All-Americans. It’s hard to get these guys.
The gauge is if you’re in the hunt. In 2018 Syracuse signed Top-20 recruit Darius Bazley only to have him decide to wait a year and then enter the NBA draft. In 2019 the Orange signed four-star recruits Brycen Goodine and Quincy Guerrier. Stud Benny Williams is coming this fall and top-20 recruit Kamari Lands is committed for 2022. Syracuse had signed top-five 2022 recruit Dior Johnson, but he has re-opened his recruitment. They’re in the ballgame vying for top-20 recruit Zion Cruz, top-30 recruit Chance Westry and top-50 recruits, JJ Starling and Donovan Clingan. I think the fastball is still humming.
I think Boeheim does see his 80th birthday as head coach of the Orange and then calls it quits. So the 2025-2026 season becomes the first since 1975 without the bespectacled coach with the magnetic personality on the Syracuse basketball bench.
Who will succeed him? It will likely be a member of the Orange family. I am going to offer some long-shot candidates, but the reality is that this is a two-horse race.
6. Jason Hart
Hart was a four-year starter at point guard for the Orange between 1996-2000. After a ten-year NBA career, he spent a season as an assistant at Pepperdine before joining the USC Trojans in 2017.
5. Allen Griffin
Griffin was a point guard at Syracuse between 1997-2001. He spent six seasons assisting Archie Miller at Dayton and also spent time at Hofstra, St. Francis and Providence before joining the Orange staff in 2017.
4. Stephen Thompson
Thompson was a high-flying wing player during an amazing time in Syracuse basketball history, 1986-1990. Even with teammates like Derrick Coleman, Sherman Douglas, Billy Owens, Rony Seikaly, LeRon Ellis and more, Thompson provided many electrifying moments. He has been an assistant coach at Oregon State since 2014 and has coached his two sons like his college coach. Thompson also served as the head man at Cal State LA.
3. Ryan Blackwell
After a season at Illinois, Blackwell finished his career at Syracuse, earning third-team All-Big East his senior year in 2000. He played overseas and coached two teams in Japan before coming to the states in 2015 and taking over Liverpool High School in Syracuse. He led Liverpool to their first-ever state championship in 2018. He has also coached Boeheim’s Army in summer’s The Basketball Tournament since 2016.
2. Adrian Autry
Autry’s is probably the best resume of the bunch. He led the Orange in assists all four of his seasons, culminating with a first-team All-Big East selection in 1994. After a playing career overseas he held two high school assistant positions before joining Seth Greenberg’s staff at Virginia Tech. After two seasons there he joined the Syracuse staff in 2011.
In 2016 Autry was named the Orange associate head coach. He has some head coach experience on the AAU circuit and also with some summer college all-star teams overseas. He has just been named one of 13 coaches to take part in the TopConnect Leadership Institute which helps develop skills and relationships to help with career advancement.
1. Gerry McNamara
Sometimes the job doesn’t go to the candidate with the best resume. Sometimes it goes to the candidate with “it”. In Syracuse, Gerry McNamara has “it” on steroids. McNamara stepped onto the Carrier Dome floor as a freshman in 2003. The only way you’d have known he was a freshman was if you looked in the program. From watching the game, you would have sworn he was a senior. From day one.
Yes, Carmelo Anthony was the star that led the Orange to the 2003 National Championship with one of the greatest freshman seasons in college basketball history. His presence seemed to have made many not notice No. 3 for Syracuse in that game against Kansas. McNamara made all six of his 3-point shots in the first half of that game.
I understand the Anthony love in Central New York, but McNamara is one of the most popular players to ever wear Orange. You could not hear his introduction on Senior Day because as soon as the crowd realized he was next, they drowned out the PA announcer. McNamara has been on the staff since 2009 and has done a great job coaching the guards. He has been the lead recruiter for many of the top players previously mentioned.
On opening night of the 2025-2026 season, the Carrier Dome PA announcer will say for the first time “and the Syracuse Orange are coached by Gerry McNamara.”
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