Sunday editorial: Devalued: Boeheim hits sore spot close to home

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 12, 2017

Syracuse University head basketball coach Jim Boeheim, who seldom pulls punches, said something the other day about Greensboro that didn’t sit well with traditionalists.

Boeheim said there was “no value” playing the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in Greensboro, where it has been held 27 times. A statement such as this is nigh onto heresy on Tobacco Road and in the middle of ACC country.

But Boeheim’s comments require context. He was speaking at a press conference in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., where this past week’s ACC championship was played. It’s the first time the tournament has been held in New York and the first time north of Washington, D.C.

“I just think New York City’s a great venue for our tournament,” Boeheim said Wednesday after his team lost to Miami. “I think the big cities are where it should be played. I think it should be played here, Washington, Atlanta.

“… There’s no value in playing in Greensboro. None,” Boeheim added. “It’s there because the league’s been there and the office is there and they have a 150 people that the ACC needs. That’s why it’s there. It should not be there.”

Boeheim’s point is New York, Washington and Atlanta are much bigger media outposts and would serve as better recruiting centers for the league’s teams. “How many good players are in Greensboro?” Boeheim asked at one point.

He noted the Big 10 basketball tournament is going to be held in New York next year because it simply makes good business sense for the Big 10. Boeheim’s observations were not greeted kindly by the people who live and work in Greensboro and diehard ACC fans in general, who remember when the conference was only eight teams and half of them were in North Carolina.

When the ACC tournament is held at the Greensboro Coliseum, it plays to a packed house, which wasn’t necessarily the case in Brooklyn. Greensboro also is headquarters for the ACC office, and it always has been viewed as a neutral venue — the best kind of “neutral” if your favorite school happens to have names such as the Deacons, Tar Heels, Blue Devils and Wolfpack.

Greensboro also was promoted as a middle travel destination in the conference between Maryland and Georgia Tech in earlier days and between Boston and Miami in more recent years. The ACC Tournament is supposed to return to Greensboro in 2020. Until then, it will go back to Brooklyn in 2018, then move to Charlotte in 2019.

Boeheim’s “no value” statement about Greensboro might strike a chord with us in Salisbury. The National Sports Media Association recently announced it was moving to Winston-Salem from Salisbury, where it had held its annual national awards ceremony since 1960.

Salisbury heard the NSMA’s opportunities for growth, connections and sponsorships are greater in Winston-Salem. In other words, it’s a bigger media center, with better recruiting possibilities. It just hurts to think our value is gone.