Dick Vitale widely was criticized on social media for his impassioned defense of Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim during a Virginia-Louisville game he was analyzing for ESPN on March 7.

Wednesday, Vitale largely reiterated his position in an interview with Newsday hours after it was announced Boeheim would retire in three years and that athletic director Daryl Gross had resigned.

"I have a strong opinion, and I gave it on TV, and a lot of people may disagree with me," Vitale said in the interview, one of several he has done in support of an ad campaign he stars in for Oberto jerky. "But I want to make it very clear: A coach is responsible. A coach is accountable for whatever transpires in his program. There's no doubt whatsoever that Syracuse should be penalized.

"I thought the penalty for him was too severe, because he did not orchestrate the whole scenario that took place for which they've been penalized. For example, he never orchestrated the fact that two guys who were boosters of the university, cleared by the university to be boosters, are at a YMCA and get charged by the YMCA for taking out $300,000 that was missing.

"Some of those dollars, according to reports, were all given to players who Jim sent over there thinking they were volunteering, helping kids in the Y, and meantime the kids were getting cash. He had no knowledge. People live in a dark world if they think that a coach has every way, 24/7, of knowing what players are doing.

"No player is coming to Jim Boeheim and saying to him, 'Hey coach, they're giving me money.' No way, shape or form. But because they're under his direction, he's paid the price - 108 games taken away. To me, cheating is when a coach orchestrates the $20 handshakes, the $50 handshakes, the $100 handshakes, orchestrates changing transcripts.

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"Jim hires the guy to be in charge of academics, the guy goes out and he's got people doing term papers and all that jazz. He finally clears that whole staff up, gets rid of it. The point is he was guilty of trust.

"Jim Boeheim bleeds Syracuse orange and I know down deep for a fact how much this hurts him. It hurts him big time."

Vitale thinks the news Boeheim will be gone in three years won't hurt recruiting too much.

"That's never a positive situation, but because it's Syracuse, with their visibility, they're playing in the ACC, they'll continue to get great players, I really believe that," Vitale said.

"I may be wrong, and I have not even read the report [about him setting retirement date] yet, but I think it was a way of trying to quiet down some of the critics, because let's face it, there are haters no matter what he does. There are haters out there for any major program.

"I thought it was absurd in the eyes of some people that he should be fired, because I'm telling you, he did not orchestrate any of this. To me a cheater is the guy who orchestrates, that knows he is violating rules. That knows the rule exists and you're violating it.

"What did Jim Boeheim do? Did he deliberately, with intent, academically have papers done for kids? Did he, with intent, send kids to work at the Y to get money? But they're under his watch, and under his watch he's paid for it, and I just think that's sad."