Eric Devendorf Railroaded by Syracuse University For Halloween Night Spat

Larry RulisonContributor IDecember 11, 2008

Remember this image of Syracuse guard Eric Devendorf because it may be the last you see of him in an Orange uniform.

A Syracuse University judicial board has recommended that Devendorf be suspended indefinitely and for the rest of the academic year after a fight with a female student.

A fight did occur. We know that. But to what extent the fight should impact Devo's career at Syracuse remains to be seen.

One thing is for certain, coach Jim Boeheim is livid, and I have never seem his like this. Before practice today, he railed against the board's findings against Devo and said he believes Eric could win on appeal.

Boeheim, who is a Hall of Famer and one of the most respected persons in coaching period, said that if Devendorf hit the woman, then he deserves what he got. But the coach says that did not happen.

In fact, the board found that Devendorf did not cause any physical harm. Boeheim characterized it Thursday as a verbal altercation and that the woman approached Devendorf. The incident took place in the early morning hours of Halloween night on SU's frat row, and hands may have been raised, but no one got hurt. There wasn't even a bruise. Check the police reports.

The problem is that Devendorf was already on probation at the university for a fight last spring that was never reported by the media. That is apparently what caused the board to decide to suspend Devendorf for the rest of the year, a move that would remove him from campus and make him ineligible for the rest of the basketball season.

Curiously, the board said that the suspension was not "punitive" but "educational."

Wait. Suspending a scholarship basketball player for the rest of the year is not punitive? Last time I checked, schools like Syracuse basically use players like Devendorf to make millions of dollars in tickets sales and advertising revenue from their athletic programs. The players do this so they can get a free education and maybe one day play professional basketball.

Even the best Syracuse players end up coaches at best. Only the premier players make millions in the NBA.

Devendorf, who received a medical redshirt last year after blowing out his ACL at the start of last season, could have made the NBA had he stayed around this year and completed his fifth year at Syracuse.

Now, he will be lucky if he ends up in the NBA's development league since he will effectively lose two seasons.

Punitive? Yes. This is extremely punitive.

My suggestion for the appeals board that will review Devendorf's coming appeal would be a suspension of 6 games, as well as anger management and community service. The judicial board said that Devendorf did not take his probation seriously, and that the suspension would provide Devendorf with "a useful opportunity to reflect and learn from his actions."

What is this kindergarten? Are you kidding me?

I'm sorry, but these college athletes are essentially servents of the school. They come to the school to perform, and the university charges money so people can watch them. By denying them the opportunity to play, it is defintitely punitive because it takes away the reason they were brought to the school. Is that cynical? Yes. But is it true? Yes. This is definitely punitive in a major way.

Did Eric Devendorf cross the line and get in some sort of confrontation with a female student? Yes. Was she hurt? No. Did she play a part? From what Devendorf's teamates testified before both the judicial board and the district attorney who wouldn't press charges, she approached him.

"He should have just walked away," Boeheim said Thursday.

Interestingly, it seems like the woman dated or went out with some of the Syracuse players who were present at the incident and testified at Devendorf's hearing. They all said that Devendorf was defending himself and did not hit the woman.

"Three witnesses back up what he said," said Boeheim, who noted that nothing criminal was found, and that Devendorf was only found guilty of violating student codes governing verbal harassment and disorderly conduct.

"It is clear that penalties have been and can be reduced," Boeheim said. "It is not automatic that you have to be suspended because you are on probation."

Once Devendorf appeals by next Wednesday, the appeals board has 10 business days to render a decision. The Orange will be entering the Big East season by then, with or without Devendorf. Let's hope justice is reached.