Jim Boeheim and SU statements on Bernie Fine allegations
Nov. 17, 2011
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - Syracuse University head basketball coach Jim Boeheim has issued a statement on the allegations of child molestation against his longtime assistant coach Bernie Fine. The university issued a lengthy statement of its own.
Boeheim said in a written statement Thursday night:
"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 been involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support."
In an interview with ESPN
, Boeheim said of one man making accusations against Fine, "He supplied four names to the university that would corroborate his story. None of them did ... there is only one side to this story. He is lying."
Kevin Quinn, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs at Syracuse University, also issued a statement Thursday evening:
"In 2005, Syracuse University was contacted by an adult male who told us that he had reported to the Syracuse City Police that he had been subjected to inappropriate contact by an associate men's basketball coach. The alleged activity took place in the 1980’s and 1990’s. We were informed by the complainant that the Syracuse City Police had declined to pursue the matter because the statute of limitations had expired.
"On hearing of the allegations in 2005, the University immediately launched its own comprehensive investigation through its legal counsel. That nearly four-month long investigation included a number of interviews with people the complainant said would support his claims. All of those identified by the complainant denied any knowledge of wrongful conduct by the associate coach. The associate coach also vehemently denied the allegations.
"Syracuse University takes any allegation of this sort extremely seriously and has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind. If any evidence or corroboration of the allegations had surfaced, we would have terminated the associated coach and reported it to the police immediately. We understand that the Syracuse City Police has now reopened the case, and Syracuse University will cooperate fully. We are steadfastly committed ensuring that SU remains a safe place for every member of our campus community."
Early Friday morning, the following email was sent to News Channel 9 from Syracuse University:
Dear Students, Faculty & Staff,
Last night, we were contacted by an ESPN television reporter regarding allegations dating back to the 1980’s and 1990’s that Associate Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bernie Fine had engaged in inappropriate behavior with a minor, now 39. Following the terrible news that came out of Penn State in the last several weeks, this is clearly distressing to all of us in the Syracuse University community. The news is already being covered widely by the media.
I want to tell you what we know and what we are doing about it.
First, as has been announced, Bernie Fine has been placed on administrative leave pending a new investigation by the Syracuse Police Department. He has vehemently denied the allegations and should be accorded a fair opportunity to defend himself against these accusations.
As we have communicated publicly in response to media inquiries, in 2005, Syracuse University was contacted by an adult male who asserted that he had reported allegations in 2005 of abuse in the 1980’s and 1990’s to the police. That same individual told us that the Syracuse City Police had declined to pursue the matter because the statute of limitations had expired.
On hearing of the allegations, the University immediately launched its own comprehensive investigation through its legal counsel. The nearly four-month-long investigation included a number of interviews with people the individual said would support his claims. All of those identified by him denied any knowledge of wrongful conduct by the associate coach. At the end of the investigation, as we were unable to find any corroboration of the allegations, the case was closed. Had any evidence or corroboration of earlier allegations surfaced—even if the Police had declined to pursue the matter —we would have acted.
As of last night, we became aware that the Syracuse Police have determined to open an investigation, and we will cooperate to the fullest extent with their review of the matter.
Let me be clear. We know that many question whether or not a university in today’s world can shine a harsh light on its athletics programs. We are aware that many wonder if university administrations are willing to turn a blind eye to wrongdoing that may disrupt a successful sports program. I can assure you I am not, and my fellow administrators are not. We hold everyone in our community to high standards and we don’t tolerate illegal, abusive or unethical behavior—no matter who you are.
As you know, this week, I affirmed Syracuse University’s steadfast belief that all of us have the responsibility, individually and collectively, to ensure that Syracuse University remains a safe place for every campus community member and everyone with whom we interact on a daily basis on campus or in the community as part of our learning, scholarship, or work. We do not tolerate abuse.
The dilemma in any situation like this, of course, is that—without corroborating facts, witnesses or confessions —one must avoid an unfair rush to judgment. We have all seen terrible injustices done to the innocent accused of heinous crimes. And we’ve all seen situations where the guilty avoid justice.
At this time, all we really know is that a terrible tragedy is unfolding for both the accuser and the accused. I want you to know that we will do everything in our power to find the truth, and —if and when we do find it—to let you know what we have found.