Jim Boeheim To Receive Wilmot Cancer Center’s Inspiration Award

October 28, 2004

SU Coach Jim Boeheim

Jim Boeheim, longtime coach of the top-ranking Syracuse University men’s basketball team, will receive the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center’s Inspiration Award for his efforts to raise awareness about prostate cancer and support cancer prevention education.  Boeheim is a prostate cancer survivor and a leader of the nationwide Coaches vs. Cancer program.

Boeheim will be honored at the Wilmot Cancer Center’s sixth annual Discovery Ball on Saturday, May 7. The Inspiration Award is presented annually to someone who offers hope to cancer patients and survivors. 

“Jim Boeheim has the amazing ability to overcome challenges and achieve success,” says Richard I. Fisher, M.D., director of the Wilmot Cancer Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center.  “He faced prostate cancer during his busy basketball season and endured treatment and survivorship with dignity.  And he has turned the experience into a major source of research funding through the Coaches vs. Cancer program.”

Boeheim was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001 and took a brief leave of absence from coaching during his surgical treatment.  Just one season later, he guided the Orange to the 2003 NCAA Championship.

The title capped a remarkable climb for the native of Lyons, N.Y. Boeheim enrolled at Syracuse in 1962 and was a walk-on with the basketball team that year. By Boeheim’s senior season, he was a team captain along with the legendary Dave Bing. The Orange were 22-6 overall that year and earned the team’s second-ever NCAA Tournament berth.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in social science, Boeheim played professional basketball with Scranton of the Eastern League. In 1969 he turned to a career in coaching and was hired as a graduate assistant at SU and he was soon promoted to a full-time assistant coaching post and was part of the staff that guided the Orange to the programs first NCAA Final Four appearance in 1975. In 1976, he was appointed head coach at his alma mater.

In his 28 years at the helm, the Orange have produced only winning records. He has led the Orange to three NCAA championship game appearances (1987, 1996 and 2003) and 23 NCAA tournament invitations in all.

Boeheim has a 676-234 overall record and he ranks third among active Division I coaches in winning percentage. A three-time Big East Coach of the Year, he has been honored as District II Coach of the Year nine times by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).

In 2001, Boeheim led the USA Basketball Young Men's Team to the gold medal at the World Championship in Japan. It marked his seventh year of USA Basketball coaching experience. That fall he was named USA Basketball 2001 National Coach of the Year.

A champion of many charitable causes, Boeheim has been most active with Coaches vs. Cancer, a cooperative fund-raising program of the NABC and the American Cancer Society. Boeheim’s Central New York campaign has led all others in money raised for each of the past seven years.

He also supports Crouse Hospital’s Kienzle Family Maternity Center, Children’s Miracle Network, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Pioneer Center for the Blind and Disabled, Lighthouse, People in Wheelchairs, Easter Seals, Special Olympics and the Jack Bruen Fund.

The Wilmot Cancer Center Inspiration Award honors individuals who offer hope to people with cancer.  Previous recipients include Judy von Bucher, former Xerox CEO David Kearns, late Yankee and McQuaid baseball coach Michael Fennell, author Peter Teeley, retired U.S. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, and figure skater Scott Hamilton.

The Discovery Ball, chaired this year by Erik and Judy von Bucher, is one of Rochester’s largest fund-raisers, due largely to corporate support.  In the past five years, more than $1.4 million has been raised to support cancer research and patient care.

Sponsorships for the event are available by contacting Kim Ziegler, assistant director for special events, at (585) 242-8988.

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Leslie White
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