Sunday, November 27, 2011

Syracuse is now playing damage control (2x UPDATED)

2nd UPDATE: 9:07 p.m. EST: Jim Boeheim's words certainly were carefully chosen; and in reality, they don't tell us that much.

"I never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged' is almost laughable; no one thus far has suggested that the coach saw anything.

"I believe the university took the appropriate step tonight" also says very little. What else could he say? Any public hint that suggests he disagreed with the chancellor's decision to oust Fine certainly would have met with Boeheim also being shown the door.

The university now will be in the media glare as Penn State was just three weeks ago. And any sense that it is resisting telling a complete story will be met by even more questions.

1st UPDATE: 8:54 p.m. EST: On the basketball program's Facebook page, head coach Jim Boeheim discussed the dismissal of his long-time assistant coach:
“The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling. I am personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged. I believe the university took the appropriate step tonight. What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found. I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse.”
ORIGINAL POST: The Syracuse university basketball program has been a beacon of integrity...and now it is under real stress.

Assistant men's basketball coach Bernie Fine was fired tonight, as the rumors surrounding his purported sexual abuse of at least two boys spirals out of control.

Perhaps the most damning suggestion that Fine did something wrong came from his wife, who spoke on the telephone several years ago with one of the boys who has accused him of abuse.
In a tape-recorded 2002 telephone conversation, the wife of Syracuse associate head coach Bernie Fine admitted she had concerns that her husband had sexually molested a team ball boy in their home, but said she felt powerless to stop the alleged abuse.
Bobby Davis, who has publicly accused Bernie Fine of years of molestation that Davis said started when he was in the seventh grade, legally recorded his Oct. 8, 2002, phone call to Laurie Fine.
"I know everything that went on, you know," Laurie Fine said on the call, obtained by Outside the Lines from Davis. "I know everything that went on with him ... Bernie has issues, maybe that he's not aware of, but he has issues ... And you trusted somebody you shouldn't have trusted ... "
She continued: "Bernie is also in denial. I think that he did the things he did, but he's somehow through his own mental telepathy has erased them out of his mind."
Head coach Jim Boeheim forcefully defended his assistant coach a couple weeks ago, so there are undoubtedly going to be questions about what Boeheim knew and when he knew it; and whether he, too, could find himself under pressure as the investigation continues.

If you are thinking at this point that the parallels to this point seem eerily similar to what has unfolded at Penn State, then you are not alone.

Those similarities include:
1. A long-time assistant coach accused of wrong doing;
2. A legendary head coach who seemed oblivious to what took place;
3. Years of abuse;
4. A developing investigation that could lead to multiple people in leadership positions being dismissed

Of course there are some differences, and the most prominent to this point are:
1. Fewer victims (though let's be honest, one is one too many)
2. As yet, no national outrage
3. Syracuse appearing to be more prepared to handle the scandal than Penn State was

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