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Boeheim expects to return next season

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ATLANTA (AP) - Fiery as ever at 68, Jim Boeheim wanted nothing to do with questions about whether he'll be returning to coach next season when Syracuse moves to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

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``I'm not going to answer that question unless you ask every coach that question,'' Boeheim snapped at a reporter, minutes after a 61-56 loss to Michigan in the national semifinals Saturday night.

There has been some speculation that Boeheim is no fan of Syracuse's move from the soon-to-be-disbanded Big East to the ACC. But in responding to a question in the postgame news conference, the coach said he has ``never indicated at any time that I'm not coming back next year - ever.''

``As far as I know, I'm 100 percent coaching next year,'' he said. ``That's really kind of where I'm at right now.''

Asked whether he considered quitting out of loyalty to the Big East, Boeheim said that, indeed, he is loyal to the conference that played a huge role in turning college basketball into what it is today. But over the last several years, as the shuffling of teams has forced the Big East to expand to an unwieldy 16 teams, Boeheim said he's found himself not recognizing the conference that formed in 1979, as a basketball-dominant league based in the northeast.

``I love the Big East, but if the Big East was the same as it was, or even remotely the same, I would quit because I wouldn't be happy,'' he said.

Because of expansion, Syracuse is now used to long road trips and foes with no historical connection. He said it won't be all that different in the ACC, which is also adding Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and, a year later, Louisville.

``So I should be happy because there's more teams that I know in the ACC,'' he said. ``I've always thought that the two best leagues in the country were the ACC and Big East over the last 34 years.''

AP NEWS
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The Associated Press
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