Skip to content

A Uni Watch Look at Jim Boeheim

Posted in:

[Editor’s Note: As you surely know by now, longtime Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim is retiring. Today we have a guest entry from Uni Watch reader and big Boeheim fan Doug Brei, who’s going to cover Boeheim’s sartorial stylings over the course of his playing and coaching careers. Enjoy! — PL]

By Doug Brei

With Jim Boeheim ending his 47-year coaching career at Syracuse — and a 61-year stay with the university overall — I thought it would be fun to look at the uniforms he’s worn.  Let’s start with a shot of him in his high school basketball uniform in Lyons, N.Y. — he’s pretty easy to spot:
After high school, Boeheim attended college at Syracuse — where, of course, he played on the basketball team from 1963 through 1966:
Syracuse also wore a two-tone uniform during Boeheim’s playing tenure:
After college, in the late 1960s, Boeheim played in the Eastern Professional Basketball League for the Scranton Miners, who wore sleeved jerseys:
In 1970, the Miners changed their name to the Scranton Apollos. Along with the name change, they scrapped their sleeves and went with traditional tank tops:
As for his coaching attire, Boeheim was long known for his collection of plaid sportcoats and mismatched ties, which became something of a punchline throughout upstate New York:

But Boeheim’s look improved after he married his wife, Juli, in 1997. She instilled some fashion sense into him and he began wearing more fashionable blazers and finely tailored suits:

But when the pandemic led the NCAA to loosen the rules regarding coaching attire, Boeheim was happy to go with a more casual look:

That covers the primary arc of Boeheim’s career. But here are some additional odds and ends:

  • In addition to coaching basketball, Boeheim briefly coached the Syracuse golf team, as seen here:
  • In 1991, Boeheim suited up in Syracuse’s then-current uniform to play Dick Vitale in a charity one-on-one game:


Paul here. I love this entry, especially because I was pretty Boeheim-ignorant. I particularly like how he had already settled into his bespectacled, receding-hairline look as a young man. In some of those early photos of him as a player, he almost looks like a ringer who was Photoshopped into the image!

Big, big thanks to Doug for putting this together. Great stuff!



Substack Reminder

In case you missed it on Thursday: For this week’s Uni Watch Premium article on Substack, I interviewed renowned music producer/engineer/guitarist Steve Albini, who you may know from the bands he’s fronted (Big Black, Shellac), his production credits (Nirvana, the Pixies, the Breeders, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, countless others), his many screeds and manifestos regarding the music biz, or his recent side career as a professional poker player.

Albini may seem like an odd subject for a Uni Watch interview, but his career has included a surprising number of uni-related and uni-adjacent moments, and I had a blast picking his brain about them. The resulting article is a doozy — about 6,500 words.

You can read the first part of the article here. In order the read the entire thing, you’ll need to become a paying subscriber to my Substack, which I hope you’ll consider doing. (If you subscribe, you’ll also gain access to my full Substack/Bulletin archives.)

Looking ahead: The annual MLB Season Preview column will run on Substack on March 28-ish, just before Opening Day.



“Ask Me Anything”

The next quarterly installment of “Ask Me Anything” — the series where you can ask me anything about uniforms, sports, Uni Watch, me, or anything else, and I do my best to answer — will be published on Substack next week. I plan to make this one available to all, with no paywall. If you’d like to submit a question, feel free to email it here. (Please note that this is not the usual Uni Watch email address.) One question per person, please.

I look forward to seeing your queries. Thanks!



Can of the Day

Here’s another sensational can for shucked oysters. In addition to the great design, I love the slogan: “None better, few as good.” How great is that?

As usual with oyster cans, this one is insanely pricey.

• • • • •

We’ll have the Ticker later this morning, and that’ll do it for me. Enjoy Phil’s Saturday and Sunday content, remember to set your clocks ahead, and have a great weekend. I’ll see you back here on Monday. Peace. — Paul


Comments (30)

    Proofreading: It looks like this sentence is missing a word or two: “I particularly how had already settled into his bespectacled, receding-hairline look as a young man.”

    Jim Boeheim is one of those guys who has looked old as fuck since the day he was born.

    I can’t get over how much he looks like Phil Silvers in that Apollos picture. Must be the black-rimmed glasses. All the earlier pictures showed him with the no-bottom-rim look.

    Never a big Boeheim fan, except for his stubborn insistance on zone defense (worked for me as a coach as well) but these pictures are great. I love the golf picture and the lookalike contestant winner the most.
    And that can is almost too good to be true, as if an ad agency in the early 2000s designed it as a retro oyster sample giveaway distributed in the street or in malls. Very cool design and slogan.

    Regarding that the pandemic opened up casual dress for NCAA basketball coaches. Had to go back and see Mark Few in a jacket and tie until 2020. Seems that my recall memory it’s always been casual. (Getting old). The look now is better and probably a generating revenue stream.

    Not at all surprised. Not only because many coaches are probably fine with the 1/4-zips and/or polos on the bench, but also the apparel companies see it as a way to push something besides program-related T-shirts and jerseys.

    Too bad Boeheim’s style run ends with baggy, golf leisurewear. Will always prefer coaches in suits, but the slobification of America is here to stay, so here we are.

    I pretty much had the same thought about how Boeheim looks like his current self in his younger shots. It’s very weird and hilarious. Given how long he’s been at Syracuse, it’d be interesting to see how the team’s uniforms have changed over that time. I’d bet you could almost see the design/style pendulum swing back and forth a few times.

    As a native Syracusan of a certain age, I’d love to see the Orange pick up the late 60s/early 70s unis as throwbacks. They bring back memories of the ’75 Final Four team with the Lee Bros. and basketball at Manley.

    I loved the old Boeheim look with the blazer and slacks. Seeing all these coaches wearing sports gear instead of suits looks ridiculous now. They’re the highest paid employees at the university, at least dress properly to look professional. Coach K last year looked ridiculous wearing a pullover.

    I do not mind coaches not dressing up anymore. An angry, upset and fulminating man in a suit and tie looks extra ridiculous, not extra professional. I have never seen an American basketball coach in a suit and slacks look and behave professionally during a game since Pat Riley and Dean Smith. And look at Riley now, he looks so happy and relaxed in his beachcomber retirement attire. The man who made Armani suits the dress code for coaches. By the way, Bobby Knight wore a suit and tie and, boy, was he the ultimate professional in his appearance and actions…I still pity his former players and his chairs.

    Since coaches don’t play, I have no problem with them not wearing their (formerly) customary $2,000K Armani suits. It always seemed odd that “benchwear” for football/basketball/hockey coaches were suits or other “dress” clothes. That’s not to say I opposed those who wanted to wear them (and who didn’t love Vince in his fedora? link

    Still, I always thought coaches should sport (pun intended) a more ‘coach-like’ apparel. link

    Unfortunately, as was pointed out above, I’m sure a good amount of the transition from suits/jackets to polos and the like was more than likely driven by a desire to sell more merch. Just witness the NFL over the past decade-plus.


    Vince in his fedora was great but if you did not know who he was you could easily mistake him for a math teacher or a tax collector. I like suits alot, even though they do not suit me but the current look reflects their involvement in the physical aspect of the game, not only the tactical side.

    At least NHL coaches still suit up. One more reason to like hockey. NBA coaches once brought serious style. Now they’re almost as sloppy as NFL coaches. Trying to picture Tom Landry on the sidelines with a giant headset, wearing an XXL sweatshirt and baggy khakis.

    As long as he would wear his fedora, yes I can imagine this. On the other hand: Andy Reid in a suit? He would look like John Candy playing a second hand car salesman.

    What about baseball managers? They would look seriously overdressed in a suit and tie in the dugout, surrounded by chewing and spitting players. Hockey coaches wearing suits are just very smart: we all know how chilly hockey arenas are supposed to be.

    Baseball managers are in a slightly different league than coaches for other major sports. In the early days of the sport (and up to, I believe, Bert Schotten), managers did actually wear suits in the dugout — picture the immortal Connie Mack, for example. And while not specifically denoted in the rules, baseball has almost had managers in uniform. There’s actually no dress code, as it were, spelled out.

    Rule 4.07 stipulates that “no person shall be allowed on the playing field during a game except players and coaches in uniform, managers, news photographers authorized by the home team, umpires, officers of the law in uniform and watchmen or other employees of the home Club” — which seems to imply that, while coaches need to be in uniform, managers themselves can dress as they see fit. But it goes a bit deeper than that.

    In baseball’s early days (and pretty much up to and including Pete Rose and Frank Robinson), many managers were also players, so they were required to be in uniform. Player/managers are pretty much a thing of the past now, but traditionally the manager has always worn a uniform — whether or not he was also a player. I heard (or read) somewhere that because the manager steps onto the field of play (to bring out the lineup cards, remove a pitcher, argue a call, etc.) he is required to be in uniform. I’m not 100% sure that’s anywhere in the rules, per se, but it has always been the de facto case.

    In the other major sports, and soccer, the manager (or head coach) is restricted to the sidelines, and wouldn’t be required to be in uniform. So his choice of “sideline” attire has varied throughout the years. For the past 100 or so years (until the past decade-ish), that almost always meant wearing a suit (as those “street clothes” were de rigueur for most of the 20th century). Baseball, whether because of tradition or (unwritten) rule, has almost always featured the manager in uniform.

    Plus the Boeheim versus Vitale one on one pic. That must be my favorite image from this post. Look at Dickie V’s smile. You can hear him say: awwww, Jimmy, you are a PTP, baby!

    I don’t know the context of this picture, but its another pretty good shot of Boeheim nonetheless.


    That’s a great picture Lee.

    A suggestion of the context: It’s probably from some old-timers game or scrimmage in the 70s…and based on the ages of Bing and Boeheim in the picture, it’s likely it was taken in the latter half of the decade. (Bing retired from the NBA in 1978, and I’m not sure he would be playing in an old timers game in Syracuse while still an active NBA player. Let’s guess it’s from somewhere after 1978.)

    That appears to be Boeheim’s old backcourt partner Hall of Famer Dave Bing in the background.

    The circle at center court is indicative of the Manley Field House court in the 70s:

    Boeheim is wearing the number 33, not the number 35 that he wore in his SU playing days. The jersey style Boeheim is wearing was gone by the time the photo was taken. My guess is he grabbed an old jersey lying around the equipment room. Back then teams would keep the old unis and use them for practice once new uniforms were issued. My guess is he’s wearing the 1971-72 jersey of Greg Kohls, who played for the Orangemen from the 1969/70 through 71/72 seasons: link


    Boeheim went to a tailor in Rochester to make the custom fabric for his suit linings. There was a story done on that once.

    Ah, here it

    Can we PLEASE go back to Coaches wearing Coat and Tie? In all Sports?

    This photo from the entry in particular (link) puts me in mind of a certain sports uniform blogger, yes? And I bet Paul would look great in that jacket, too.

Comments are closed.