An Exhaustive List Of Reactions To The Bernie Fine Allegations

Posted by mlemaire on November 22nd, 2011

Allegations that Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine molested two former ball boys have been in the news cycle for nearly a week now. Just enough time for interested media outlets to scour the country asking anyone and everyone who has connections to the Syracuse basketball program what they thought about Fine and his alleged misdeeds.

Fine Remains at the Center of This Controversy

The Syracuse Post-Standard – as it should be – is all over this story and has been since ESPN broke the news last week. Anyone interested in the latest news surrounding the allegations would be wise to check out their myriad of related content, especially the explanation from Executive Editor Michael Connor about why the paper never published the story in 2003 when alleged victim Bobby Davis first approached them. But they obviously aren’t the only well-connected publication, and many others have published stories including the thoughts of former players and experts – almost all of whom have come out in support of Fine.

We decided it would be worthwhile to cull together as many of these opinions as possible in one post and present them all. This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive list of the opinions, but it was an exhaustive search. All editorial content from us is meant to provide context and not opinion. Also please keep in mind these quotes were not meant to be presented as one stream of consciousness, they are a combined version of the opinions offered to the media outlets reporting on them.

Bernie Fine

In a statement publicly released on Nov. 18.

Simply put, these allegations are patently false in every aspect. The fact is these allegations have been thoroughly investigated multiple times. When evaluating the veracity of these accusations, please keep in mind that credible media outlets were approached in the past to publicize these false allegations and declined to do so. I fully cooperated with all past inquires.

Sadly, we live in an allegation-based society and an internet age where in a matter of minutes one’s life long reputation can be severely damaged. I am confident that, as in the past, a review of these allegations will be discredited and restore my reputation. I hope the latest review of these allegations will be conducted expeditiously.

Finally, I appreciate the Chancellor’s statement that I should be accorded a fair opportunity to defend myself against these accusations. I fully intend to do so. There should never be a rush to judgment when someone’s personal integrity and career are on the line.

Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim

Speaking to The New York Times’ sports reporter Pete Thamel hours after the allegations surfaced:

The university investigated this, the university talked to the people he said to talk to; none of them corroborated it. I believe they are looking for money. I’ve known Bernie Fine for 45 years, and there’s absolutely no way that I believe any of this could possibly have happened, that’s the bottom line. I believe they saw what happened at Penn State, and they are using ESPN to get money. That is what I believe. I don’t think I’ve ever been in Bernie Fine’s hotel room, ever.

In a prepared statement that basically reiterates his opinion from before:

This matter was fully investigated by the University in 2005 and it was determined that the allegations were unfounded. I have known Bernie Fine for more than 40 years. I have never seen or witnessed anything to suggest that he would be involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support.

Responding to the allegations with ESPN, the outlet that initially broke the story:

We spoke to the people (Davis) asked the university to talk to. Not one person would corroborate his story. Why wouldn’t he come to the police (first this time)? Why would he go to ESPN? What are people looking for here? 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. You want to put that on the air? Put that on the air.

He makes the point that he was around and traveling with the team. 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. Bernie helped a lot of kids. He works with the Kidney Foundation. He works with Make-A-Wish. He works with three or four different groups. He has helped kids as I have. This is a kid that came up with all this stuff and it was all looked into for four months. The only new thing is his (relative) has come forward.

Speaking with the Post-Standard:

This is alleged to have occurred … what? Twenty years ago? Am I in the right neighborhood? It might be 26 years ago? So, we are supposed to what? Stop the presses 26 years later? For a false allegation? For what I absolutely believe is a false allegation? I know he’s lying about me seeing him in his hotel room. That’s a lie. If he’s going to tell one lie, I’m sure there are a few more of them. I never have been in Bernie Fine’s hotel room in my life. This is what, 16 to 18 years ago, or whatever it is? But I don’t recall ever walking into any of my assistant coaches’ rooms. Now, could I have once … one time? I have a pretty good recollection of things, but I don’t ever recollect ever walking into Bernie Fine’s hotel room. Ever.

I know Bobby. He was one of 300 ball boys we’ve had. This kid ended up being a babysitter for Bernie. He babysat Bernie’s kids. That’s why he was on the trips. He’d babysit. The kid only traveled, to my knowledge, if he was babysitting Bernie’s kids. This is when he was 18 years old. He was helping to babysit the kids. That’s the only time I know about, from talking with Bernie. Here’s why. The Penn State thing came out and the kid behind this is trying to get money. He’s tried before. And now he’s trying again. If he gets this, he’s going to sue the university and Bernie. What do you think is going to happen at Penn State? You know how much money is going to be involved in civil suits? I’d say about $50 million. That’s what this is about. Money.

Bernie helped a lot of kids, a lot of kids. The Post-Standard and the university talked to those other kids (in 2003). None of them corroborated the story, at all. I know some of those kids. They’ve told me, ‘Hey, Coach. Bernie helped me. He cared about me. He knew I needed help and he helped me.’ You need to go to your people down there at the paper. They investigated this for four months. Do they remember that? And they found … what? They investigated this and found nothing. They talked to Bernie’s neighbors and friends … everybody. They found nothing. Your paper would whitewash nothing. Don’t you agree? They had nothing. They could not write a story. They found zero. I’ve talked to ESPN, the (New York) Times and you, that’s it. I’m done talking. I’ve released my statement. The university has released their statement.

And also these remarks to the Post-Standard:

What? I can’t support a friend of 50 years? I hope that’s not the case. Some people have said that if these allegations are true, I should be fired. Why? Because Bernie Fine is my friend and I support him? I don’t have any reason not to. I’m not Joe Paterno. Somebody didn’t come and tell me Bernie Fine did something and I’m hiding it. I know nothing. If I saw some reason not to support Bernie, I would not support him. If somebody showed me a reason, proved that reason, I would not support him. But until then, I’ll support him until the day I die.

People will say, ‘those words might come back to haunt you,’” Boeheim admitted. “But I have no reason not to believe that Bernie Fine is anything other than a good person who’s done nothing but help others. If somebody can show me that is not true, I’ll take it under advisement. If you can get in trouble for supporting a friend you’ve known for almost 50 years, I don’t want to live in that country. Is that clear? And yet people are saying stuff like that. That’s sad. That’s a sad world. When you can’t be loyal to your friends, I don’t like that world.

Former Syracuse center and NBA player Rony Seikaly

Via the Associated Press:

Bernie would never do such a thing. I vouch for Bernie. There is no way something like this could ever happen in my eyes. No way. I spent four years with Bernie, every single day. I know what kind of guy he is. Completely ridiculous. 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.

In a phone conversation with the New York Post:

I’m disgusted by the guy. Bernie Fine is the glue of the program. Bernie Fine is all about helping people. He would never do something like that. He is one of the very best people I know. It’s disgusting that anyone would say it. It’s just unbelievable. This would have happened during my years up there. You would have to know. If I saw a little hint of such a thing, I would have done something, There was nothing. It’s disgusting. You won’t find one person who would voice anything other than Bernie is a good guy.

Leo Rautins, father of former Syracuse guard Andy Rautins

Speaking to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, via USA Today:

The Bernie Fine I know, I support 100 percent. He’s someone I’ve trusted with my own children. You don’t even have to be a media member to start something and have it go viral. That’s the world we live in. Unfortunately, this has taken on an incredible life. I feel horrible.

Former Syracuse center Roosevelt Bouie

Speaking to the same reporter that Rautins did:

My mother told me if you give it legs, it can walk.  I called the coaches and talked to the people involved that I needed to. I’m kind of a private person when it comes to family matters. To me, Syracuse is my family.

Big East Associate Commissioner for men’s basketball Daniel Gavitt

The Daily Orange again provides the quotes:

I’ve known Bernie Fine for almost 25 years, and I can’t believe these allegations. He has my personal support. There would be no indication in any way, shape or form that I could believe these allegations. Obviously they’re serious allegations, and no one would condone things that aren’t appropriate or legal. But it’s equally as serious to allege things that aren’t true.

George Hicker, former Syracuse University men’s basketball player and a member of the SU Board of Trustees

More kudos for The Daily Orange:

I’ve been around him in every imaginable circumstance in life. And there is no chance, no chance these allegations are right. I know them. There’s no way this kind of stuff is going on. Boeheim never saw anything, this guy is lying, and Bernie never did it. It’s an entirely different situation at Penn State, where there was a grand jury investigation. They only just initiated a police investigation here so it’s not even a comparable thing. They’re going to investigate it and then they’re going to drop it. Hopefully they can get to it quickly so that he can go back to his job and when he walks into the Carrier Dome he gets an ovation for what he’s meant to the school.

Sam Carello, a former men’s basketball team manager for the 1985-86 and 1986-87 seasons

Via The Daily Orange:

People that know Bernie will know it didn’t happen. But the people who don’t will think he’s guilty. It’s not innocent until proven guilty in this society anymore. What’s really sad is they’ve just ruined a guy’s career without investigating it further. I was one of the people they interviewed back in 2005 and stuff. You didn’t find anything there. Now, just because of this Penn State stuff and the media, you get a media blitz to ruin this guy’s life without any accusation except one guy claiming this and no evidence. I just got off the phone from a conference call with Derrick Coleman and Billy Owens. And everybody feels the same way. They’re upset and they blame it on the Penn State thing trying to bring down the university’s name for the same reason. Everybody that knows Bernie knows there is no way he did this. I know he’s not guilty, but he’s already presumed guilty. He’s on leave. He will never coach again. Anyone accused of being a molester at a university, you’re not going to coach anymore. All because of one person coming forth and lying.

Former Syracuse basketball manager Fred Katz

According to the Post-Standard, Fred Katz spent one year as the Syracuse basketball manager before transferring to the University of Missouri where he became a sportswriter. Katz put that writing ability to good use this weekend, penning his own column about his thoughts for HoopSpeak. No use posting bits and pieces because the column in its entirety is well-worth the read.

Former Syracuse guard Eric Devendorf

The Daily Orange is all over this one again:

I think it’s a lie. I’ve been to his house numerous times. I’m good friends with his son and his family. Bernie is a great person, and I was always able to come back and talk to him. He did a lot of things for me off the court besides basketball, so it’s not even in his character to even do something like that. It seems like a lie to me, the whole thing seems real fishy. First of all, they’re related, so they’re obviously trying to stick up for each other. It just seems like the guy is trying to get attention. Bernie has never been accused of anything like that, no one has ever seen it.

The Penn State thing is a whole different issue. (Sandusky) was seen doing stuff to kids, and Bernie hasn’t ever been seen or anything like that. So it’s just a whole bunch of nonsense to me. Coach Boeheim has been around Bernie longer than everybody. I’m sure if something like this took place, he would have been notified of it or something like that. And he hasn’t seen anything. Coach Boeheim has Bernie’s back, and I do too. Bernie’s a great person, and he’s been great to me and my family. It’s definitely going to put a tarnish on him either way it goes, because with something like that, it’s pretty serious allegations,” he said. “It really sucks that somebody would come out and say something like that, because it’s definitely not a good thing to have over your head. It just seems like a whole bunch of nonsense to me, and I definitely support coach.

Syracuse Community

A number of students spoke with The Daily Orange. Standing alone, none of the quotes were long enough to merit their own block quote, so just follow the link to the article and read what students are saying for yourself.

Rev. Robert M. Hoatson, founder and president of the New Jersey-based non-profit Road to Recovery

Speaking at a rally via The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and Post-Standard:

Jim Boeheim needs to be held responsible by the chancellor of this university to change his tone and to apologize to Bobby Davis and Michael Lang for calling them liars, for telling them that what they’re saying is not true and for intimidating other possible victims who we hope will come forward as a result of the courage that these two men have exhibited. We would like Syracuse to change its mascot (color) from orange to yellow because Jim Boeheim has been cowardly. He hasn’t said a right thing yet. He just wants to protect his program, and the program isn’t worth a hill of beans if it has exposed children to pedophilia. They were part of the program. For these guys to give service to the university and be treated this way is unconscionable. When Jim Boeheim, the king of Syracuse University basketball and arguably the king of American college basketball, who has a 36-year reign on this campus, when he says something like these men are liars, a lot of people listen to him and victims go into further and further silence.

Former Syracuse quarterback and advocate against abuse Don McPherson

We saved McPherson’s comments for last because we feel they are the most telling and there really isn’t a better embodiment of both sides of the story than an advocate against sex abuse and someone who has met Bernie Fine as well. So here he is, offering a truly measured response to The Daily Orange:

It’s not a matter of being surprised, it’s a matter of being saddened by it … this isn’t a normal case because it’s Bernie Fine and it’s attached to a major national media story. Unfortunately now Bernie’s name is going to forever be linked to a sex abuse accusation. And again, if he’s innocent of that, it’s a tragedy. And if he’s guilty of that, it’s a bigger tragedy. So there’s nothing good out of this story. They become news stories and they survive a news cycle and then we tend not to have the real hard conversations, the difficult conversations that lead toward prevention.

And that’s, unfortunately as long as we’re talking about Penn State University and Syracuse University as the stories behind this behavior, and not sexual abuse and why it happens and how we can recognize it, how we can help kids. As long as we talk about Jerry Sandusky as a monster and not as a human being who we need to really understand and help other people understand how to protect themselves, then it’s going to continue to happen.

mlemaire (232 Posts)


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