Not too long ago, Mike Hopkins was counting down the days until he would replace Jim Boeheim at Syracuse. Boeheim, not long after the NCAA hit the Orange with sanctions in 2015, announced he’d retire after the 2017-18 season.
Hopkins, however, accepted the head-coaching position at Washington this past weekend. Soon after, Syracuse announced a new contract extension for Boeheim. Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com reported that the deal will run through 2021-2022.
“Mike accepting that position clearly changed the dynamics of the succession plan that we had put in place and followed,” director of athletics John Wildhack said in a Monday press conference.
“I was never sure in the last five years whether I would come back,” Boeheim added. “I always was thinking, will this be the last year? Will this be the right time?
“When this agreement was made with the Chancellor, and me and Mike Hopkins, I fully knew next year (2017-2018) would be my last year. I never, ever thought anything else, ever. I never tried to change that in any way, shape, or form.”
With Boeheim set to stay at Syracuse for the next few years, Orange fans are now wondering what the new succession plan will be.
Despite his departure for Washington, Hopkins can’t be ruled out as a potential replacement for Boeheim in five years. The UW opportunity will provide Hopkins a chance to season himself in a top job while competing in one of the nation’s elite conferences. If Hopkins makes the most of his opportunity at Washington, getting the Huskies back to prominence in the Pac-12, why wouldn’t he be a natural option to replace Boeheim down the line?
At 72, Boeheim is the oldest head coach in all of Division I. He is one of two septuagenarians in the ACC, alongside Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski. He was fully prepared, in his own words, to walk away after one more season.
That Syracuse effectively drafted him to keep the program rolling into the next decade speaks volumes about the respect Boeheim has.
Boeheim has successfully navigated his way past the NCAA troubles. With the new extension, he now has a golden opportunity to make an impressive final stamp on college basketball. But is he truly willing to coach until he’s 77 years old? That’s the question that will make for some restless nights for Orange fans in the coming years.