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Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Syracuse chooses assistant coach Hopkins as Boeheim successor

Associated Press

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Jim Boeheim has known for a while who he wanted to succeed him as head coach of the Syracuse Orange when he decides to retire, and now it's official that assistant coach Mike Hopkins is the man.

Hopkins said Tuesday that he had reached an agreement on a plan to succeed the Hall of Fame coach.

"Just to be thought of like that by a guy who I respect, one of the greatest coaches of all time, it's very flattering. I'm very humbled," said Hopkins, who grew up in California. "Syracuse is the place where I got married. I've been here now 18 years. He [Boeheim] is just constantly telling me new things and just educating me. Being around Coach and being around [associate head coach] Bernie [Fine], I've had a great bunch of mentors. They've really been there for me."

Hopkins, who played guard at Syracuse from 1988 to 1993, is in his 13th season on Boeheim's staff.

"Jim isn't going anywhere, but Mike is my next coach," athletic director Daryl Gross said, adding that it was premature to talk about the future because Boeheim has given no indication he plans to retire anytime soon.

Gross declined to offer details of the agreement in deference to Boeheim, who turns 63 in November and has given no indication he plans to retire anytime soon. In 31 seasons at his alma mater, Boeheim has a 750-264 record and has led Syracuse to 25 NCAA tournament appearances, three Final Fours and the 2003 national championship.

Boeheim was in meetings Tuesday and not immediately available for comment.

Hopkins, a Syracuse captain for Boeheim in 1992 and 1993, joined his staff in 1995 and five years later was given his first chance to recruit. He has lured Gerry McNamara, Hakim Warrick, Demetris Nichols, sophomore Paul Harris and current freshman Jonny Flynn to Syracuse.

Boeheim has been Hopkins' biggest supporter and designating Hopkins as the heir apparent eliminates the chance Hopkins might leave to take a head coaching job elsewhere.

Hopkins was a fan favorite when he played, known for his hustle and scrappy play. He expects to bring those elements to the bench.

"I'm going to coach how I played. I'm going to hug and kiss you after the game, and I'm sure during practice the competitive fire will come out a little bit," Hopkins said. "That's what's fun. I love the relationships in recruiting. I love the relationships in the community. This thing is a family. It's not about me or these other guys. It's about the bigger picture."

In May, ESPN cited multiple sources in reporting that Hopkins would be officially named as Boeheim's successor but said there was no timetable. The ESPN report said the university had reached an agreement to put a succession plan in writing and said the move had been in the works for months.

University officials said at the time there was nothing to report.