For quite some time the general assumption was that whenever current Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim decided to call it a career, Mike Hopkins would be the man to take over the program. Having played for Boeheim in the early 1990’s, Hopkins has been a member of the Syracuse coaching staff since 1995.
Thursday the school announced that Hopkins has now been given the title of head coach designate, meaning that he will take over as head coach when Boeheim retires in 2018. Syracuse has made 14 NCAA tournament appearances during Hopkins’ time on staff, and he’s been an important asset to the program in regards to both recruiting and player development.
“I’m honored, humbled and grateful for this special opportunity,” Hopkins said in the release. “Very few people are afforded the privilege to coach at their alma mater. I want to thank Chancellor Syverud, the Board of Trustees and Jim Boeheim for entrusting me with this great program.
“Coach Boeheim has created one of the most preeminent college basketball programs in the country, one that is committed to a standard of excellence and consistency.”
Making this news official is a positive step for Syracuse, as opposing programs cannot attempt to use Boeheim’s eventual retirement against the Orange in recruiting. Prospective players now know for sure who will take over when the Hall of Fame coach retires, and the fact that it’s a person who’s been a part of the program as either a player or coach for the last two-plus decades (outside of the two years he played professionally) helps with continuity.
Hopkins is one of three Syracuse alums on Boeheim’s coaching staff, with former guards Adrian Autry and Gerry McNamara being the others. The Orange, who missed out of postseason play as a result of a self-imposed postseason ban for NCAA rules violations, return three starters from last season’s 18-win team.