Nov 18, 2011, 12:06 AM EDT
Syracuse quickly responded to allegations that assistant coach Bernie Fine sexually molested at least one boy and is now being investigated by police. The school issued a statement and placed Fine on administrative leave.
But Orange head coach Jim Boeheim (pictured, with Fine to his right) issued an emphatic response of his own.
“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 told the New York Times. “That’s the bottom line.”
Fine, in his 35th season as Boeheim’s assistant, has been accused by Bobby Davis, a former Syracuse ball boy who told ESPN that Fine allegedly molested him starting in 1983 at multiple sites, including Fine’s home and Syracuse facilities. Davis, 39, says he tried to have police investigate Fine in 2003, but was told the statute of limitations had expired and they would not investigate.
Multiple news sites investigated the story in 2003, but didn’t find enough evidence to publish anything.
“He makes the point that he was around and traveling with the team,” Boeheim told ESPN. “Not that I know of. I never saw him. He is quoted — (that) I saw him in the room. I have never been in Bernie fine’s room in my life. That is an outright lie.”
The Syracuse Post-Dispatch also noted a non-sexual incident between Davis and Fine in 2001. From the paper:
Davis said he broke off all contact with Fine in 2001 because, Davis said, Fine grabbed him by the neck at Manley Field House and demanded repayment of a $5,000 loan he’d given him — a debt Davis admits he never paid.
The news is emerging now because another alleged victim, his stepbrother, Mike Lang, is willing to talk to police, and has done so. (He also spoke to ESPN Thursday.) Lang, 45, also was a Syracuse ball boy.
That isn’t swaying Boeheim.
“I know this kid, but I never saw him in any rooms or anything,” Boeheim told ESPN. “It is a bunch of a thousand lies that he has told. You don’t think it is a little funny that his cousin (relative) is coming forward?
“He supplied four names to the university that would corroborate his story. None of them did … there is only one side to this story. He is lying.”
A former Syracuse player, Rony Seikaly, also doesn’t believe the allegations.
“Bernie would never do such a thing,” Seikaly told the Associated Press. “I vouch for Bernie. There is no way something like this could ever happen in my eyes. No way.
“Do people want a quick buck or something? I spent four years with Bernie, every single day. I know what kind of guy he is. He’s just a very helpful guy. He was the glue to Syracuse basketball. He’s still the glue 20 years later when you’re already gone. He keeps in touch with every single player. He’s that kind of guy.”
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
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