You’ve become quite the philanthropist. The Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation raises thousands and thousands of dollars for kids in need and for cancer research, with programs like Courts for Kids and the Jim Boeheim Fantasy Camp. Why is it so important for you to give back?
The importance of the Foundation for me is that everyone in Syracuse has supported our basketball program so much, and I think that you have to realize at some point that you have to give back to the community. We wouldn’t have the basketball program if it weren’t for the community.
We’re able to give back by working with the kids in our community for Courts for Kids and helping fight cancer with Coaches vs. Cancer. But we’re able to give back only because everyone is willing to pitch in and offer support—whether it’s for the golf tournament or the Basketball Gala. When you get into a position where you have the opportunity to have an influence and give back, it’s your responsibility to do so.
You’ve been so passionate about generating millions of dollars for cancer research. Now you’re on the advisory board of Cellceutix, a small pharmaceuticals company, that’s on the cutting-edge of developing what could possibly be the most advanced cancer drug on the market. Do you think we’ll find a cure for cancer in our lifetime?
I joined the company because I think we are making real progress, and I think we are going to find the cure for something. We’ve made great strides with cancer—there’s more early recognition and more treatable cancers than ever before. There’s still a long way to go, but if we keep funding research and raising awareness and make sure that early detection is still the best way to cure cancer, I think everybody believes we will find a way to beat it.
Did you ever imagine your life going in this direction when you were growing up in the small town of Little Lions, NY?
Not really. When you’re getting through college, you don’t really know what you’re going to do next. I imagined that I’d be coaching and teaching high school or something. But you never know what is going to happen in life. I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to coach as graduate assistant at Syracuse University, and I was lucky that I got to stay with it.
You’ve been coaching for more than 30 years now, and people are wondering if you might be getting ready to retire. Do you have any plans to retire soon?
When it comes to coaching, you should focus only on doing the best coaching job you can do for that team in that particular year. I make plans only for this year, and do everything that I can to be successful for this team. When I first started coaching, I figured I’d coach for about 10 or 15 years. Then I made it to 20, and then 30. I never thought I’d be coaching for 36 years, so you just never know. There isn’t any end in sight, but the day will come when you think you’ve coached enough and it’s time to move on.