Nearly two weeks after Syracuse University seemed to put its support behind men's basketball associate head coach Bernie Fine amid child molestation claims, the school fired the 65-year-old coach Sunday evening.
"At the direction of Chancellor Cantor, Bernie Fine’s employment with Syracuse University has been terminated, effective immediately,” the school announced on its Website after even more damaging information emerged.
News broke that there was a taped conversation between the victim and Fine’s wife in which where she seemed to confirm the molestation. In addition, a third victim has come forth saying the long-time Syracuse assistant sexually abused him, too.
This seems a total about face from when the allegations first surfaced on Nov. 17. Syracuse placed Fine on leave so that he could focus on dealing with the accusations. The school seemed to stand behind Fine after Bobby Davis, 39, and his stepbrother Mike Lang, 45, both came forward with their stories of how they were abused by Fine when they served as ballboys for the basketball team in the 1980s.
One of Fine’s strongest supporters was Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, who had employed Fine for 36 years. Boeheim seemed confident that the allegations were not true and that the two former ballboys were simply trying to cash in on the Penn State fiasco that saw longtime football coach Joe Paterno fired after a former assistant coach was accused of molesting young boys at the school’s football facility.
“The Penn State thing came out, and the kid behind this is trying to get money,” Boeheim said two weeks ago after the accusations became public. “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.”
Boeheim was singing a much different tune Sunday night as he supported the school’s move to fire his associate head coach and friend.
“The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling,” Boeheim said in a statement released by the school. “I am personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged. I believe the university took the appropriate step tonight. 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. I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse.”
Boeheim and the school’s change of heart likely had to do with the new allegations waged by Zach Tomaselli, 23. He claims to have been assaulted by Fine in a Pittsburgh hotel room in 2002.
Also Sunday, ESPN’s Outside the Lines aired a taped conversation between Davis and Fine’s wife, Laurie, which seemed to confirm that a sexual relationship took place between her husband and Davis. Davis legally taped the conversation on Oct. 8, 2002.
"I know everything that went on, you know," Laurie Fine said on the call. "I know everything that went on with him ... Bernie has issues, maybe that he's not aware of, but he has issues ... And you trusted somebody you shouldn't have trusted ... "
She continued: "Bernie is also in denial. I think that he did the things he did, but he's somehow through his own mental telepathy has erased them out of his mind."
Davis claims to have tried to turn the tape over to the authorities back then and they did nothing. It’s also clear Laurie Fine knew of the molestation and did nothing to stop it from occurring, which could also bring charges against her.
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(Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)