John Wallace: ‘NCAA Doesn’t Like Syracuse’

Former Syracuse standout John Wallace dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Friday to discuss his alma mater’s self-imposed one-year postseason ban.

Wallace, 40, led Syracuse to the national title game in 1996, ultimately losing to Kentucky. He still keeps in close contact with former head coach Jim Boeheim.

“All the time,” Wallace said on Tiki and Tierney. “I’m probably the one former player that he still gives as many tickets to every year as he did when I was a player.”

Looking at this year’s team, Tiki Barber believes it’s unfair to penalize kids who had nothing to do with past improprieties, but he’s not sure what a better alternative would be.

“I went through it myself, my freshman year,” Wallace said. “We were banned from the postseason. Had nothing to do with me or any of the guys that were there at the time. It’s just something you deal with, man. It sucks it comes to this. I’d like to think that Syracuse got out in front of it a little bit. Hopefully the NCAA will say those penalties and sanctions will suffice and that won’t deter any of the guys coming next year from honoring their commitment and all that. That’s the big thing. We have a really good recruiting class coming in next year. You don’t want any of those kids to start wavering because of postseason bans and stuff. So I thought it was fine to try to do it for this year. Hopefully the NCAA will see it the same way.”

Wallace finds it ludicrous that the NCAA has been investigating Syracuse since 2007.

“You’re talking eight years ago,” he said. “The NCAA has been investigating us for the last six, seven years diligently. The things that they’re coming up with, I think, happens at most universities. It sucks that we’re under the fire and we got caught. I believe the NCAA doesn’t like us for other reasons I’m not going to even get into right now.”

But wait, why would the NCAA not like Syracuse?

“Syracuse, we’re our own thing,” Wallace said. “I’m not sure what other on-site campus basketball facility sells beer. So we kind of control our own (thing). We have a ton of money up there. We might have a little bit more than most universities because of all the little things we’re able to get away with at the Dome with the merchandising and money up there. I don’t think this is a Syracuse problem as much as it is an NCAA problem.

“I’m not saying Syracuse shouldn’t be held accountable for anything,” Wallace continued. “If you did something wrong, you should be held accountable. But you got to figure out a system so you’re not penalizing the guys that had nothing to do with it. I don’t know what they can do, but it seems like every other year there’s a program that’s being penalized for players that used to play there. You’re penalizing the current players and it’s just not right. The NCAA’s got to figure out a way – or a quicker turnaround – to this investigation.

“This investigation took eight years. It started in 2007. You’re telling me the NCAA can’t have a quicker turnaround than that? It doesn’t make sense to have an investigation start in 2007 and have it finalized eight years later and you’re two classes removed form the guys who actually did something. I think the NCAA’s got to figure out a quicker process to expedite these penalties.”

Wallace believes that improprieties will continue to occur throughout college basketball, especially at major programs.

“It’s going to always happen,” he said. “You know why? Because there’s always guys who come to college with a little bit less. When I was at college, you just couldn’t do the normal college things because I didn’t have those recourses. I couldn’t just call my mom or dad and say, ‘Can you send extra money?’ Because the money I had was all I had. There wasn’t disposable income in my family. So when you’re on the campus and 90 percent of the kids there are doing whatever they want to do and they have the money to do it, you want to feel like a normal college student, but it’s hard because you don’t have the same resources.

“That’s always (going to happen). If someone’s trying to help you out a little bit, nine times out of 10 you’re going to accept a little help because you need it. Not that you want it. You need it.”

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