Coach Boeheim: Devendorf's punishment too severe

Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim.

Syracuse basketball player Eric Devendorf will play this weekend at the Carrier Dome against Long Beach State despite a pending school suspension over a confrontation with a fellow student. Coach Jim Boeheim is talking for the first time since the police and campus security heard the allegations made by Kimberly Smith in the early morning hours on November 1.

The Hall of Fame coach admits his player made a mistake that night, but says Devendorf did not strike Smith in the face. Coach Boeheim said it was " bad conduct on his part to get into a verbal confrontation , but the punishment does not fit what happened. To be suspended from school for a semester for this it doesn't make sense. Three witnesses had a completely different story then the girl it does not make sense. "

The three witnesses were Devendorf's teammates on the Syracuse basketball team. Coach Boeheim says they all told the truth in front of the students who sit in judgment on the University Judicial Board. Boeheim says the players testified Smith started the verbal confrontation with Devendorf. Devendorf pushed her in the shoulder, but she was not hurt.

Coach Boeheim criticized the structure of the hearing because Devendorf had to answer questions from a seasoned Public Safety Officer. Boeheim said it is " far from being a fair process when it's a professional going against a college student. Eric is not skilled enough, neither would I be or you to conduct his own defense in front of a panel of people in judgement of him when there's a skilled prosecutor who has done this many times and also an employee of his is going to be testifying in front of him."

Boeheim said he decided to talk about the incident now because the attorney for Kimberly Smith has been talking to the media and released documents from the hearing before an appeal could be heard. The coach of the 13th ranked Orange says he intends to play Devendorf until the appeals process plays out.

Boeheim cited past precedent of students-athletes who were already on probation, like Devendorf, who have subsequent violations of the Code of Conduct and do not receive a penalty as stiff as school suspension. Boeheim hopes the penalty against Eric Devendorf will be reduced through appeal.

Devendorf's attorney has already notified the University of an intent to appeal. The written appeal must be filed by next Wednesday.