DPS officer Andrew Clary reflects on how his military service helps him protect the men’s basketball team
DPS officer uses military background to protect Boeheim, team
Sgt. Andrew Clary opens the door to his office wearing a 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four shirt. He sits at a desk covered in badges and coins collected from all the places he has traveled. On his wall hangs a signed Joe Montana picture, and lying next to it is his Syracuse basketball backpack.
Clary is in charge of special events for the Department of Public Safety at Syracuse University, which, among other things, makes him the traveling security guard for the men’s basketball team. More specifically, he is the security guard for Coach Jim Boeheim.
Seven years ago, Clary met with Stan Kissel, the director of basketball operations, regarding disciplinary issues involving a few basketball players. After a few conversations, it was suggested that Clary take on a more involved role with the team.
“I put in for a promotion and didn’t get it,” Clary said. “But, my chief told me he wanted me to do something else anyway. It was a job he created specifically for me.”
Since then, the Orange have been in the Final Four of March Madness twice. Many college basketball programs around the country have followed Syracuse’s lead and hired officers to travel with them. The pressure of protecting a man like Jim Boeheim might be overwhelming for some, but Clary said his time in the Air Force has prepared him to remain calm under pressure.
Born and raised in Oswego, Clary always dreamed of joining the military.
“I was intrigued by the discipline and teamwork,” Clary said. “I wanted to work with other people.”
Clary signed up for the Navy’s Delayed Entry Program after his high school graduation. But, his goals of playing college football led him to SUNY Oswego first, where he graduated with a degree in Public Justice.
Upon graduation, Clary said he enlisted in the Air Force because they promised him a career in law enforcement after his service. During his time spent in basic training surrounded by men straight out of high school, Clary said he developed the leadership qualities that allow him to do his job well now.
“That’s what basic training was all about,” he said. “Working as a unit, working as one. They break you all down and then build you back up the way they want you.”
After basic training, he was stationed in Missouri as security police. Then, he was placed on temporary duty, spending the next few years protecting bases in Korea, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia following the Gulf War.
In 1996, he began his law enforcement career in Syracuse. Today, he said he finds many parallels between the lessons he learned in the military and his responsibilities as a sergeant.
Andrew Kratz works under Clary at DPS. A Syracuse native and veteran of the United States Marine Corps who still serves in the reserves, Kratz is a peace officer responsible for the safety of SU’s students.
“It’s great,” Kratz said with a smile when asked what working for Clary is like.
“Keep talking,” Clary responded, as he jokingly slid his hand onto his service pistol.
“He’s an Air Force guy, so I can only judge him off of that. All they know is air-conditioning,” Matthew Rougeau, an Army veteran and another public safety officer, joked when asked the same question. “Clary’s a good dude. He’s kind of in charge, so if there’s something going on, he’s the one you talk to. He’s always good.”
The people Clary works with on the SU men’s basketball team echoed the sentiments of his DPS colleagues. They said he takes his work seriously, but does not take himself too seriously.
“He keeps team flights interesting,” said sophomore guard Tyus Battle. “He’s always making jokes, pulling pranks on guys.”
Joe Fields, former academic advisor for the team, has become a close friend of Clary’s over the years. The two always sat close to each other on team flights.
“He’s always looking out for other people,” Fields said. “I think that’s why he’s so good at what he does. It makes sense.”