Story by Michael Boren
Photo by Danielle Parhizkaran
Andy Clary watches from behind the basket as Syracuse University basketball star Kris Joseph walks out of bounds on the court of the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center.
“LeBron likes trick shots,” Joseph said. “So does Kris Jo.”
He raises his arms and lets the ball slip off his hands toward the basket. The ball bounces off the rim and falls to the floor; not exactly the swoosh Joseph intended.
Clary smiles as the ball tumbles and yells “Ohh,” as if Joseph missed a three pointer during a season game.
“Just for the record, he made the first one,” Clary jokingly said.
But Clary is not a graduate assistant or a Syracuse basketball official. He is a cop.
As a corporal for athletics in the Department of Public Safety, Clary regularly attends SU football and basketball practices, interacting with players from both sports.
“It’s a dream job,” Clary said. “The coaches have been great since I started.”
Clary began working the newly established athletic position in March 2009, after approaching Doug Marrone, SU’s head football coach.
The position allows Clary to act as a liaison between DPS and SU athletes. Marrone told him the position was a great idea and he would give Clary whatever he needed. As corporal for athletics, Clary also deals with the communication between DPS and Manley Field House, if there are any issues with athletes.
“He pretty much opened the door for me to come and go with the football players, with the staff,” said Clary, a 14-year veteran of DPS.
DPS Chief Tony Callisto appointed Clary as corporal for athletics because Clary was sports-minded and already had a good relationship with students.
Since establishing the new position, Callisto said DPS hasn’t seen as much trouble with student athletes.
“His job isn’t to get people out of trouble,” Callisto said. “It’s to work with people before they get in trouble.”
When football season ends, Clary moves to the Carmelo Center to monitor basketball practices.
Practices typically last two to three hours and 20 to 30 visitors come to watch practices—a very different atmosphere from football practices.
“It’s loosey-goosey compared to football,” Clary said. “Coach Marrone doesn’t allow people to come into practice like that. But Coach Boeheim opens the doors and gives tours of the facility as practice is going on.”
Associate head coach Bernie Fine and assistant coaches Mike Hopkins and Rob Murphy do the hands-on coaching at practice while Boeheim oversees it.
“They break everything up,” Clary said. Coach Hopkins does the guards. Coach Murphy does the forwards, and Coach Fine does the centers.”
As a regular attendee of practices and the officer who stands behind the SU bench at basketball games, Clary finds time to mingle with the players.
He has the codes and keys to get through most of the Carmelo Center, including the basketball locker room, where a flat-screen TV sits above the wooden lockers that have electronically-numbered codes and individual pictures of each player.
As Clary looks around the empty locker room on a Friday evening, SU basketball player Nick Resavy returns from a Special Olympics event, sporting his blue Syracuse sweats and a red scarf on his head.
“Special Olympics scarf right here,” Resavy said as he puts the scarf behind his neck and walks toward his locker.
A few seconds later, Clary opens the locker room door as teammates Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph walk in; Joseph is wearing the Special Olympics scarf and boxers.
“Oh my God, put some pants on!” Resavy yelled to Joseph.
Joseph walks toward his space as Clary stands with his back leaning against the open locker room door.
“We live in luxury man,” Joseph said to Clary.
“I know,” a smiling Clary responded as the song “Bedrock” blasts in the background.
Joseph and Resavy slap their hands together three times, hit elbows and entangle their arms – their special way of saying goodbye.
After Resavy leaves the room, two of the team managers walk in with “Bedrock” still playing.
While Clary has time to joke around with the players, he is still an officer with a badge and a gun.
The relationship between athletes and DPS is not always this good. Because of this, Clary offers advice to athletes on dealing with DPS.
A lot of athletes, Clary emphasized, might come from their hometowns where they don’t have good interactions with cops.
“They might get here with a negative attitude towards us even though they don’t know us,” he said. “So we try to break down those walls, build a relationship.”
Clary tries to show up on calls involving athletes, hoping it will help the situation. The athletes feel comfortable with Clary and they treat him like a friend.
“In the past they might just walk by and say, ‘Hey how you doing,’ or something like that,” Clary said. “But when they see me now, we carry on conversations.”
And it’s a job that Clary said most students tell him is awesome.
“I always tell them I have the best job in the world,” Clary said. “I love it.”