Bernie Fine Fired: Is Jim Boeheim Next?

on November 28 2011 11:31 AM
Jim Boeheim
Jim Boeheim blew another opportunity to be contrite on Tuesday. REUTERS

The pressure is mounting for long-time Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim after new allegations led to the dismissal of assistant coach Bernie Fine.

Fine was fired on Sunday night after a shocking new tape recording went public of his wife, Laurie, admitting to one of his accusers, Bobby Davis, that she thought her husband had molested him.

In the disturbing tape, Laurie Fine admitted to Davis that she knew about what had happened and that she was never able to provide the type of companionship that her husband Bernie wanted.

You know what, go to a place where there's gay boys, Laurie Fine said. Find yourself a gay boy. ... Get your rocks off, and have it be over with. He needs that male companionship that I can't give him.

He'd always say, 'Bobby and I are going in the Jacuzzi.' And I'd go to the bathroom and I'd try to come in. The door'd be locked. I'd check: 'What's going on?' 'Nothing.' I said, 'Unlock the door.' 'No, we're in our underwear.'

The tapes, verified by ESPN, cast a serious doubt onto Fine's innocence. After the initial investigation went public, Fine called the allegations patently false, but the tapes plus the addition of a third accuser add considerable credence to the charges.

The new information also puts Boeheim in some serious hot water. Syracuse's coach came out extremely strong against the accusers after the investigation became public knowledge and told reporters he thought the two relatives were liars.

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.

After the firing of his long-time lieutenant, Boeheim took a starkly different tone in a statement released Sunday night. He initially accused the two accusers of looking for money and trying to capitalize on the Penn State scandal in defense of his friend, but commended the university's decision to fire Fine.

I believe the university took the appropriate step tonight, he said. 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.

Most importantly Boeheim realized the need to apologize to Davis and his step-brother, Mike Lang, about publicly accusing the two of lying for financial gain. The biggest question, though, is whether his apology will be enough to save his job at Syracuse.

That might sound outrageous to some, but there will be a lot of calls for Boeheim's head this week after more and more people get a chance to listen to those damning phone recordings.

The situation with Boeheim at Syracuse isn't the same as what occurred with Joe Paterno at Penn State, but the result might end up the same.

No one is accusing Boeheim of knowing about specific acts and doing nothing about it, as Paterno did at Penn State. In fact, his staunch defense of Fine shows that he never saw anything or had reason to believe that the assistant head coach was molesting young children.

The main reason that he is in hot water was the manner in which he publicly attacked two potential victims of child molestation. He had every right to stand up for his friend against the nasty allegations, but Boeheim went far beyond just standing up for Fine.

Instead, Boeheim went all-in that Fine was innocent and that bet isn't looking too good right now.

Boeheim has always been an outspoken coach - his comments about Syracuse moving to the ACC are a perfect example - but it would have been wise to exercise better judgment when it came to discussing child molestation allegations.

Boeheim, who has coached at Syracuse since 1976, went out of his way to say he was not Joe Paterno after the Fine allegations resurfaced on Nov. 18

I'm not Joe Paterno. Somebody didn't come and tell me Bernie Fine did something and I'm hiding it. I know nothing.

He likely didn't know anything, but that doesn't mean he won't share Paterno's fate.

It's still conceivable that Bernie Fine didn't molest Davis or Lang, but Jerry Sandusky still hasn't been convicted of any crimes and that didn't stop Penn State from shedding itself of Paterno.

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