Bernie Fine, assistant basketball coach at Syracuse University, has been placed on administrative leave after accusations surfaced that he molested at least two former ball boys who worked for the Orange, starting in the late 1970s and lasting into the 1990s.
This is the second major sex abuse scandal to rock a major college athletic program, following the tragedy at Penn State University and their football program. That scandal led to Joe Paterno being fired, as well as many other shake-ups within the university. The Nittany Lions also placed Mike McQueary, the assistant coach who witnessed the alleged abuse by Jerry Sandusky, on administrative leave at their school.
One boy came out yesterday and reported that allegations, and later in the evening, a relative of the first alleged victim of Fine came out and accused Fine of molestation. Police in Syracuse said they have opened an investigation into the allegations.
One alleged victim, Bobby Davis, now 39, told ESPN’s Outside the Lines that Fine molested him starting in 1984. Davis, who was the Orange ball boy for six years, said the abuse occurred at Fine’s home, at the Syracuse basketball facilities, and on road trips, including the 1987 NCAA Final Four.
The second alleged victim, Mike Lang, now 45, is Davis’ stepbrother and was also a ball boy for many years. He told Outside the Lines that Fine molested him starting when Lang was in fifth or sixth grade.
Davis said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim saw him in Fine’s hotel room on several of those road trips, but Davis said he never told Boeheim about the alleged abuse. That appears to be the biggest difference as of now between Paterno and Boeheim, where nobody witnessed the alleged abuse or told any of the other coaches about what was said to have taken place.
Without going into any details, the graphic descriptions that were accounted by the alleged abuse victims were disturbing, to say the least. Again, police are said to be investigating their stories further.
But Boeheim is doing something that Paterno failed to do at Penn State. He is speaking out immediately.
”This matter was fully investigated by the University in 2005 and it was determined that the allegations were unfounded,” said Boeheim. “I have known Bernie Fine for more than 40 years. I have never seen or witnessed anything to suggest that he would [have] been involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support.”
Boeheim later said that ”Why wouldn’t he come to the police (first this time)? Why would he go to ESPN? What are people looking for here? I believe they are looking for money. I believe they saw what happened at Penn State and they are using ESPN to get money. That is what I believe. You want to put that on the air? Put that on the air.”
If this happened, then all of the victims of abuse should come forward. Nobody should be allowed to get away with this, regardless of when it happened.
But I do agree with one point that Boeheim made. Once one story comes out, such as the scandal surrounding Penn State, it makes many people come forward who are looking to make a quick buck, which is nearly equally as disgusting as perpetrating the crimes themselves.
Like I said, if they are true, then the truth needs to come out immediately. But if they are just false accusations, then many more will come out of the woodworks and ruin many innocent people’s lives. It is similar to when the sexual abuse scandal came out with the church. While many of those victims were telling the truth, there were, unfortunately, some who were simply looking to lie and profit from previous incidents.
I truly hope this is not the case this time around.
Eric Schmidt is the owner/editor of thepigskinreport.com. You can follow Eric on Twitter @bucco40 and make sure to visit the pigskinreport FB page. Make sure to visit our other sites- hardballchat.com, roundballchat.com and centericechat.com for all of your sports needs.