A Syracuse source closely affiliated with the men’s basketball team tells Busting Brackets the program does expect to have suspended senior James Southerland back at some point this season, though a timetable for his potential return is still unclear.
The fourth-year forward is out indefinitely for an unspecified eligibility matter, SU revealed in a statement before the team’s game on Saturday against Villanova. Southerland sat on the bench in street clothes as the Orange staved off the Wildcats, 72-61.
Citing federal student privacy laws, which are limited in application to academic matters and medical or psychological issues, school officials have declined to divulge details of Southerland’s situation. The Syracuse source, meanwhile, confirmed what can easily be deduced by process of elimination—that the senior sharpshooter’s issue is indeed academic-related.
Because Southerland received his suspension at the tail end of winter break, two days before the university starts its second semester, his issue presumably extends from the fall semester. First-semester grades were due two weeks ago.
Syracuse was entangled in a similarly cryptic mess just last season when then-sophomore center Fab Melo, now with the Boston Celtics, sat out three mid-season games for an undisclosed academic matter. The school later suspended Melo again—this time for the NCAA tournament—due to a separate eligibility issue unrelated to academics.
Using Melo’s first suspension as a barometer, Southerland could rejoin the team sooner than later. According to the source, however, the program is moving forward under the assumption “he’ll be out a while.”
One of the premiere sixth men in college basketball, Southerland is second on the team in scoring average (13.6 points per game) and is Syracuse’s top 3-point shooting weapon.