When news broke yesterday that the Syracuse Orange had reportedly violated NCAA drug policy rules, the initial reaction was much the same as what happened after the Bernie Fine news broke.
The athletic director, Dr. Deryl Gross, came out with a quick but definitive statement and the NCAA followed up with a statement defending Syracuse by saying that the university self-reported its violations months ago.
SB Nation breaks down the issue further by illuminating this grey area within the NCAA. Essentially, there is no universal drug policy enforced by the NCAA. If a school creates one, it must follow said policy and report violations to the NCAA.
The reason Yahoo! Sports cites this story as "big news" is that if the NCAA finds a "lack of institutional control", it could result in heavy penalties from the NCAA.
Now remember, once again, there is no proof of anything yet, and the NCAA investigation is ongoing, meaning nothing will be released by either party until it's all done.
This means that once again, whenever the Syracuse Orange players take the court or are interviewed after games, this will be asked over and over again.
Jim Boeheim and the Orange have to deal with a weekend in the ESPN spotlight as the network is covering the Big East tournament, and after the recent issues with his Fine comments, I doubt Boeheim will say much of anything.
And again, the question will be raised: will this distract the Orange when it matters most? The short answer is no, the long answer is no as well. In comparison to the Fine scandal, this story has less direct implications on the team.
Fine was on the opening day bench for the Orange and the team had to let him go during the season. Losing a coach will have a much larger impact on the players than just another media story for which they will all have "no comment."
The team has veteran leaders, such as Kris Joseph and Scoop Jardine, to keep it focused. Neither has won a Big East championship (rare for a Boeheim-coached senior), and they are surely thinking Final Four thoughts as well.
The team will band together once again and focus on winning games, rather than winning over the media. Regardless, this has to go down as one of the strangest seasons in SU basketball history.