Dec 4, 2010; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim and assistant coach Bernie Fine (right) watch from the bench against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse defeated NC State 65-59. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

Bernie Fine Will Not Be Charged...Did SU Make The Right Move?

Bernie Fine will not be charged for any crimes, according to Executive Assistant United States Attorney John Duncan. Fine is not being charged after what is being called a thorough investigation that lasted almost a year:

After nearly a year of police scouring more than 100,000 pages of seized documents and interviewing 130 witnesses, the investigation that attracted national media attention has ended, prosecutors said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Clymer filed court papers this morning saying it was over, eight days short of the one-year anniversary of the day that two former SU ball boys, Bobby Davis and stepbrother Mike Lang, accused Fine on national TV of molesting them decades ago when they were children.

Neither Fine nor anyone else will be charged, Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney John Duncan said.

“The nature and seriousness of these allegations, which involved conduct typically committed in private with individuals who are reluctant to come forward, warranted a thorough federal investigation,” U.S. Attorney Richard Hartunian said.

Nov 15, 2011; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange assistant coach Bernie Fine during the first half against the Albany Great Danes at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

The article goes on to say that prosecutors wouldn’t comment on whether or not they believe Bobby Davis’ story was fabricated, or if there were evidence that Fine molested anyone. While I am not a detective or prosecutor, I feel that if there were any evidence to show that Fine molested Bobby Davis combined with the high profile nature of this case, the investigation would not have ended, even after a year.

Throughout this entire ordeal, there were numerous people and outlets that came under fire. ESPN has come under intense fire from media experts such as Jason Whitlock and Dan Patrick regarding their quick to judge reporting on this story which many say was premature following the Penn State scandal. The Syracuse Post-Standard has come under scrutiny for following ESPN’s lead and releasing damaging pieces of information from something that they found not to be credible years ago. The Post-Standard released the phone call between Laurie Fine and Bobby Davis immediately, but took months to release a phone call between one of their own reporters and Mike Lang where the conversation went in a complete 180 of what Davis said on tape.

Syracuse University will now be under the most scrutiny as people will begin to question if it was the right move to fire the assistant coach of 30+ years now that there is not enough evidence for charges following a year long federal investigation. The University originally put Fine on administrative leave before firing him 10 days after the allegations came out. Syracuse University released a statement today saying that they feel they made the right decision in firing fine last year.

“The decision last November regarding Mr. Fine’s employment was the appropriate step to take and it was made in the best interest of the University,” Kevin Quinn, SU’s vice president for public affairs, said in an e-mail.

But was it the right move by the University? This was definitely a tough call to make with everything swirling around at that time period, but it is still questionable to say if it was the right decision. I absolutely think the University did the right thing with the administrative leave once it all hit the national spotlight. But why not just keep him on administrative leave until the case has concluded? What people from any level of influence would be angry at allowing the man to be innocent until proven guilty? Fine did all of the right things throughout this, keeping a low profile while not commenting on anything to this date. Making him step aside temporarily with the potential to get fired based off of the case would have been the right thing to do. With Fine staying quiet, there wouldn’t have been any circus act at Syracuse aside from the charade the ESPN put on, and continued to put on even after this firing. While I think it is questionable that they fired him versus making him stay away until the investigation ended, I 100% think it was wrong for the University to correct Jim Boeheim.

And they did correct Jim Boeheim.

Boeheim was initially 100% supportive of his coworker and friend that he had known for a very long time. Boeheim assertively said that Bobby Davis and Mike Lang were lying, and that they were out for money for the entire thing. In a press conference following a game about a week later, Boeheim recanted all of his statements, and said that the charged were very serious in nature and that he “severely misspoke”. Coincidentally enough, we stand here now with a lawsuit attempt on behalf of the two brothers against the man saying they were after money, and a federal case dropped that involved the secret service. When asked for a comment Jim Boeheim didn’t want anything to do with it:

Fine’s neighbor, SU head basketball coach Jim Boeheim, was walking his dog. He held up his hands and said, “No, no” when a reporter told him the news and asked him for a comment.

Bernie’s daughter Sheila however, called a reporter and said exactly what was on her mind:

Fines’ daughter, Sheila Fine, called a reporter and said the family had heard the news. “Nobody has s— to say to you. How stupid do you feel now?”

Overall, this is just a sad situation as a whole. This was uncharted territory for Syracuse University, so I guess from that perspective you can’t really fault them for making the decisions they made. They had to make quick decisions in an environment where people were quick to judge after the Penn State scandal hit, and they had to do what was in the best interest for the University. But on the flip side, all it really took was some common sense and concept of the basic principles of the United States to allow the man a fair trial before making decisions regarding his livelihood.

As it turns out, the case didn’t even get that far.


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