Cuse suspends Howard on eve of NCAA tourney

SALT LAKE CITY -- Syracuse's Frank Howard, the senior guard coming off a scintillating 28-point performance against Duke in the ACC tournament, has been suspended indefinitely for what the team described as "a violation of athletic department policy."

The school did not provide details about what led to the suspension, and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim side-stepped a question about whether Howard would be eligible to return if the Orange advance in the NCAA tournament.

Howard will not be with the team when it begins March Madness with a matchup against No. 9-seeded Baylor in Salt Lake City on Thursday (tip-off from Vivint Smart Home Arena is at 9:57 p.m. ET on truTV).

"He's not playing, we know that," Boeheim said of Howard. "We practiced with the inclination that this would be the case."

Howard averaged 8.9 points, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals in 29 games for a Syracuse team that went 20-13 and earned a No. 8 seed in the West Regional.

Howard stepped up when Tyus Battle missed the ACC tournament with a bruised hip, scoring a combined 46 points while shooting 50 percent from the field against Pitt and Duke. He became embroiled in controversy when he appeared to stick his foot out as Blue Devils star Zion Williamson ran by.

Howard denied trying to trip Williamson.

Now it will be Battle, set to return Thursday, who will most likely step in for Howard at point guard.

Battle said players did not find out about Howard's suspension until the school released its statement roughly 10 minutes before the team was scheduled to be on the floor for practice.

"It's tough," Battle said. "I mean, it's a tough situation to be in, we as a team, and I know we're going to pick up the slack and we're going to be ready to play."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.