In a shocking outburst, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim ripped ESPN’s Andy Katz at a press conference following the Orange’s loss to UConn Wednesday, calling the reporter an “idiot” and “disloyal.” Boeheim’s comments went viral almost immediately, and were extremely puzzling. What had Katz – who has a reputation as a nice guy; he plays pickup ball with Obama! – done to Boeheim?
Many thought it had to do with a Katz report on James Southerland, the suspended Syracuse guard who was reinstated last week. But no. That’s not it. Boeheim’s rage dates back to late 2011. That’s the last time Katz and Boeheim spoke. Why is that date significant? In November, the Bernie Fine story popped.
A couple people have pointed me to this story Katz wrote in November 2011 about the Boeheim/Fine relationship. I didn’t see anything terrible in there, but Boeheim is sensitive, and occasionally a bully, so perhaps the unnamed sources irked him:
It got to the point that Boeheim wasn’t recommending Fine for head-coaching jobs. At one point in the early 2000s, Laurie Fine called an ESPN.com reporter to see how Bernie could get a head-coaching job because she was certain her husband wasn’t going to get any help from his boss.
The relationship, even among the families, deteriorated. When the Fines moved across the street from the Boeheims, multiple sources say it greatly irritated Boeheim’s wife, Juli. She doesn’t like Laurie Fine and made no secret of it.
But while they might not have been the closest of friends in recent times, there is no denying that Boeheim and Fine worked closely together for decades — and in the latter years even lived close together.
I spoke with Katz earlier about his Bernie Fine reporting, and here’s what he told me:
“I had assumed he was not happy with my part of the Bernie Fine coverage,” Katz said. “I covered his reaction. I wasn’t the investigative journalist on the story. After that, I knew he wasn’t taking my calls for benign stories, and then in March when we talked to every coach in the NCAA Tournament, he was the only one who wouldn’t speak to me.”
When was the last time you heard a coach call a reporter an idiot in a public setting? And the “disloyal” part was bizarre, given that Katz isn’t supposed to be loyal to any teams or coaches. It made Boeheim look insecure and quite pathetic. So I called Syracuse to see if Boeheim or the school would be releasing a statement of any kind. “No,” a spokesperson told me.
Had you received any other calls about this?
Does the AD or anyone at the school have any comment about their longtime coach calling ESPN’s top college basketball reporter an “idiot” and “disloyal?”
“We don’t have any comment,” I was told. I asked the spokesman (who didn’t want to be named) if he found Boeheim’s outburst odd. There was a long silence. Then another no comment.
Ok, then! I hope Katz is the sideline reporter at the Big East tournament next month.