For his sake and the reputation of his program, Jim Boeheim better hope he’s right in his assertions about Bernie Fine.
Syracuse University placed the associate head basketball coach Bernie Fine on administrative leave Thursday night after a former ball boy for the team told ESPN that he was molested by Fine.
Bobby Davis, 39, said that Fine molested him “hundreds of times” beginning in 1983, when he was entering seventh grade, and lasting more than 10 years.
Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim, in a telephone interview late Thursday, adamantly defended Fine, his assistant coach for 35 years. He pointed to a four-month investigation by the university in 2005, which was conducted by the university’s legal counsel, that yielded no findings.
“The university investigated this, the university talked to the people he said to talk to; none of them corroborated it,” Boeheim said.
The Syracuse police are investigating Davis’s allegations.
“We’re in the early stages of an investigation,” the Syracuse police spokesman Tom Connellan said by phone. “We take these matters extremely seriously. We’re commencing an investigation, but the allegations are old.”
ESPN also said another man — a relative of Davis — had come forward with similar allegations. It is unknown if the Syracuse police are investigating that claim as well. Davis told ESPN that the alleged abuse occurred at Fine’s home, in the Syracuse basketball facilities and on team trips. Davis told ESPN that he reported the alleged abuse to the Syracuse police in 2003 but was told that the statute of limitations had run out.
Boeheim also said that it seemed “a little suspicious” that Davis’s relative decided to speak to ESPN in the wake of the Penn State allegations.
“I’ve known Bernie Fine for 45 years, and there’s absolutely no way that I believe any of this could possibly have happened,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”
Boeheim told ESPN: “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.”