Syracuse University placed associate head basketball coach Bernie Fine on administrative leave Thursday night after a former ball boy for the team told ESPN he was molested by Fine.
Syracuse University placed associate head basketball coach Bernie Fine on administrative leave Thursday night after a former ball boy for the team told ESPN he was molested by Fine. The Syracuse police are investigating the allegations, in which Bobby Davis, 39, said Fine molested him “hundreds of times” beginning in 1983, when he was entering seventh grade, and lasting more than 10 years.
“We’re in the early stages of an investigation,” Syracuse police spokesman Tom Connellan said. “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 the alleged abuse occurred at Fine’s home, in the Syracuse basketball facilities and on team trips. Davis told ESPN he reported the alleged abuse to the Syracuse police in 2003 but was told the statute of limitations had run out.
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In a statement, the university said that “an adult male” came to them in 2005 and the university started its own four-month investigation into the allegations. The statement said the university’s legal counsel spoke with people who “the complainant said would support his claims” and that “all of those identified by the complainant denied any wrongful conduct” by Fine. The statement also said Fine “vehemently denied the allegations.” Fine is in his 35th season as an assistant to the Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim.
“The university investigated this, the university talked to the people he said to talk to; none of them corroborated it,” Boeheim said.
Boeheim also said it seemed “a little suspicious” that Davis’ relative decided to speak up 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.”
Both ESPN and The Syracuse Post-Standard investigated Davis’ claims in 2003 and declined to run articles because they could not confirm his claims. Davis’ mother told ESPN she did not know about her son’s claims until he did an interview with ESPN about them in 2003.