Friday, November 18, 2011

Syracuse Community Reacts to Allegations Against Bernie Fine

I’ve been a Syracuse fan since I was in the 4th grade. If my math is correct (was a Communications major, so bear with me), I’ve been bleeding Orange for almost 21 years. My Syracuse fandom can legally drink alcohol now.           

There is no question that I am passionate about my alma mater (class of 2003), always quick to highlight the accomplishments of our athletic programs or the success of our alumni.I had the privilege of covering the football, basketball and lacrosse teams while in school, and was sitting court side when Syracuse cut down the nets in New Orleans.

When the allegations against Bernie Fine were released last night, my phone lit up with calls, texts and tweets from friends, fellow alum and anyone else that could connect me to Syracuse. After 10 days of nonstop Penn State media coverage, I think many of us had in the back of our mind, “I’m glad this isn’t my school.”  Well now it is my school. I am sickened by the allegations, and the content of the victims’ stories are unimaginable.

With that said, I’m proud of how Syracuse University has handled this situation (thus far). From the school releasing a statement within an hour of news hitting the wires, to putting Fine on administrative leave while this gets hashed out, to Chancellor Nancy Cantor writing a thoughtful letter to the Syracuse community stating they (administration) are not afraid to “shine a harsh light on its athletics program.”

When Bobby Davis (alleged victim) brought his story to ESPN in 2003, the sports network decided not to run the story because it didn’t have any other witnesses or individuals to confirm his story. With police not able to investigate the situation because of the statute of limitations, Syracuse University launched its own four-month investigation into the allegations. Davis brought other individuals to the school that would help support his claims, yet none of those stories checked out.
Bernie Fine in the middle of sexual abuse allegations (Pic: Post Standard)

From what we know, Syracuse has done everything right to date and as an alum, that’s what you like to see. The next 24-48 hours should paint a better picture to what claims are factual and which are false.

If you ask Jim Boeheim his thoughts on these allegations, he’s not holding back. Calling these claims “a bunch of a thousand lies,” saying that Davis “is lying,” mentioning that the timing of this story is “suspicious” and believing that the two alleged victims are looking for money, Boeheim is laying his neck on the line for his long time assistant coach.

My thoughts on Boeheim’s comments are two fold: Either he knows that there is no way these allegations are true, so he is coming out strong to try and show that; or he thinks that if these allegations are going to bring down him and the program, he is going to go down swinging.

Personally, I would be shocked if Boeheim made those comments last night without knowing to the fullest extent that the claims are just not factual. If the allegations do end up being true, then I will be extremely disappointed that a man as smart as Jim Boeheim would have tried to cover up an unthinkable crime, especially in light of the events at Penn State involving Joe Paterno.

So if you are asking my thoughts on this whole situation as a an alum of Syracuse, I’ll tell you that I am proud of the way the school has handled its business thus far. They’ve been proactive, transparent and have made it clear that no one’s legacy or stature is bigger than this investigation.

If and when the truth comes out, if it shows that Syracuse University, Jim Boeheim or Bernie Fine are at fault, well then you can check back for my updated thoughts then.

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