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NCAA continues to make a mess of case against Jim Boeheim

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Jim Boeheim ban to start Saturday (1:58)

ESPN college basketball reporter Dana O'Neil breaks down Jim Boeheim's nine-game suspension. (1:58)

The NCAA strikes. Again.

This time the organization has completely outdone itself, with the NCAA's Infractions Appeals Committee altering its initial decision on Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's suspension and ruling that it begin immediately instead of at the outset of ACC play.

Let's begin with the timing.

Boeheim appealed the ruling -- one that came down on both him and the Syracuse program for academic fraud issues -- on March 20, two weeks after the school received the infractions report. A Committee on Infractions response didn't come until May 28, and Boeheim didn't get in front of the appeals committee until Oct. 5.

The mea culpa finally came on Dec. 3, and should have read:

"Dear Mr. Boeheim, sometimes we make easy decisions far more complicated than they need to be, and this time we took it to a new level."

Instead, it read the following:

"The Appeals Committee determined that the NCAA Committee on Infractions 'abused its discretion' by directing the suspension be served during conference play, because Coach Boeheim was not directly involved in the underlying violations of the case. The Appeals Committee determined the nine-game suspension may apply to non-conference games and be served immediately."

How long does it take to figure out that you screwed up?

The same organization hit SMU coach Larry Brown with a nine-game penalty, also for a case involving academic fraud. Neither coach was found to have direct ties to the transgressions, but ultimately were found guilty because they are in charge of their programs.

Both were slapped with nine-game suspensions that also include not being able to have any contact during the suspension. No texts, no calls, no contact with coaches, players or anyone in the program.

Boeheim's suspension, levied in March, was for nine league games. Brown's was for the first nine games of the season, all against non-conference opponents.

It's not even the fact that Brown got off easier than Boeheim, sitting games against the likes of Yale, Brown and Nicholls State rather than Boeheim missing contests against Pittsburgh, Miami and Clemson.

It's about consistency and logic. There's so little of that displayed by those who work at 700 West Washington St. in Indianapolis.

Boeheim told ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil that he didn't even have an opportunity to tell his players that the NCAA was instructing him to walk away for the next 33 days after Friday's practice.

But we shouldn't really be surprised any longer. This is the same organization that didn't inform Kansas freshman Cheick Diallo why he wasn't allowed to play in the first five games of the season. It's the same organization that was prepared to let Tacko Fall miss the entire season, despite the fact he had a 3.6 GPA his last two years of high school, until the public scrutiny was too much for the NCAA to handle.

NCAA commissioner Mark Emmert needs to make sure his employees take Common Sense 101. Listen, I'm not trying to say everyone is incompetent in that big building in downtown Indy. There are plenty of intelligent folks who get it.

But there are also far too many who don't.

This is a situation that had even my 12-year-old daughter befuddled.

"Why would one guy be allowed to coach at the start of the season and one not be?" she asked a few weeks ago when I explained why SMU's coach wasn't with the team, yet Syracuse's was still coaching at the time.

My only valid retort: "It's the NCAA."

But we shouldn't still be saying that as the most plausible defense. There are often difficult decisions to make, ones done with the best interest of the student-athlete and even the coaches in mind.

This wasn't one of those.

This was as easy as a Steph Curry 3-pointer.

Syracuse received the original NCAA report -- which included the nine-game penalty and the school's one-year postseason ban -- in March. That's nine months ago.

Now Boeheim will try and figure out what to do for the next month-plus. I don't feel badly for Boeheim or Brown because they earned their "time off." Brown said he had to leave Dallas because he couldn't run the risk of bumping into anyone with SMU ties during his suspension.

"I didn't want to put the program in greater risk," Brown told me a couple of weeks ago.

Boeheim almost certainly will have to leave Syracuse because he is an institution in that city, more recognizable than the mayor. Here's one piece of advice for a destination spot, Jim: 700 West Washington St.

While you serve your punishment, you can go over there and make the NCAA suffer, too.