Wednesday, November 30, 2011

With Shocking Allegations, Jim Boeheim In Dilemma at Syracuse


As shocking as it is to find a shred of truth, end the traces of hypocrisy and purge destruction that initiated public outrage, there’s really no telling on what to believe after Jim Boeheim defended his ex-associate head basketball coach. Risking his job status, pointing his finger at former Syracuse ball boys Bobby Davis and his stepbrother Michael Lang — a couple of accusers who alleged that Bernie Fine had abused them when they were children – Boeheim deemed them as liars and money seekers.

It’s so convenient but unfair of him to defend Fine, who was fired as Syracuse associate head basketball for the disturbing allegations. It’s a shame, a real shame that he is, like Joe Paterno, caught in a pickle for someone else’s accusations of sexual abuse. By all accounts, when he tried to erase the allegations and finally had desired to protect the basketball culture for one of the nation’s best programs, he might have caused more pain. He tried to find peace and apologized for comments that may have been insensitive to victims of abuse, but it only created more furor as a national sex-abuse survivors group is begging for Syracuse University to discipline the well-respected Boeheim for wrongly referring to Fine’s accusers as extortionists and falsifiers.


He is, without much debate, an expert at winning, but surely put his reputation out on a limb for an alleged molester. In what happened at Penn State – where the board of trustees felt Paterno had knowledge of alleged crimes – is equivalent to the allegations in upstate New York. The parallels are linked to the Jerry-Sandusky situation, whereas Boeheim claimed he never knew anything about Fine sexually molesting two former ball boys, until ESPN recently reported and broadcasted the allegations. Boeheim can, for now, keep his job – everybody knows that – and he said on Sunday that the university acted appropriately in firing Fine in the wake of the 2002 tape, and lastly, apologized for his statements toward Davis and Lang.

The madness unleashed from a taped phone conversation between Davis and Fine’s wife, Laurie, when the university conducted its enclosed investigation in 2005. In a statement, however, Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor said in a memo to students, faculty and administrators Sunday night that it never had access to the tape. But on the tape, where bits and pieces of information were disclosed, Fine’s wife apparently admits to Davis that she had concerns her husband had sexually abused him in their home.

It was also made clear that Laurie admitted on the tape to having a sexual relationship with Davis. The extremely bad thing about it is that she said she wasn’t surprised, but was incapable of ending the abuse when all she could have done was call the authorities on her husband. Instead, she chose to cover the truth and reportedly suffocated the process of the 2005 investigation by saying the allegations weren’t true. It happened during the phone conversation as she spoke to one of the alleged victims as well, enabling her husband to get away with wrongdoing without offering any details in a recorded call.

Not only is the criticism swirling around Boeheim about his initial support of his former assistant and his harsh stance on the accusers. Also, he put his longtime job on the line when he verbally lashed out in defense of Fine. This past weekend, as a third alleged victim came out publicly and Laurie’s taped conversation had been made public, Boeheim had softened his position on the allegations and maintained self-control and support for the victims. His expression is irately in shock, however, his mind is set to move forward and hopefully put the allegations behind him and inspire his players, on a mission to win a national title. This is Boeheim’s attitude, a strong recovery and aspiration for a program now stuck in misery.

This university should be leery in protecting Boeheim from hell. What a helluva week it’s been, for a basketball coach who should be taken into account based on his unfeeling comments, harshly attacking the victims and blinded by his longtime assistant’s double-life. The distasteful thought is that he may have known about the allegations. And then again, maybe he was like everyone else and really had no clue Fine, who spent 35 seasons on the bench sitting next to Boeheim, was an alleged molester. Since he couldn’t reserve judgment and spoke angrily, he is simply to blame faced with a despicable and outrageous incident that cast a gloom over Syracuse. This is curable and may even die down this season, if only because its one of the elite Big East basketball programs in the nation, but it is terrifying to know that a pedophile lurked in the school’s facilities and courtside. Moments like this, in truth, is when folks are unafraid to state how they feel about a typical incident. This week, Rev. Robert Hoatson, president of Road to Recovery, an organization that supports abused victims, said that Fine’s firing wasn’t good enough.

“I think Jim Boeheim should be fired or resign as well,” Hoaston said Monday. “These boys were members of the basketball program. Jim Boeheim’s responsibility is to oversee that program, and the children were not safe on his watch.”

Penn State II: The Return of the Sex Scandal in Sports.

I am fatigued by it all. I am sick and tired of scandal after scandal, blame game after blame game in sports. It’s probably right to affirm that men of power are sick in the mind and would seduce children for an advantage in power. It’s probably right to grasp an understanding that we can’t trust men in high-profile positions either, despite that many of them are viewed as role models. This was beyond a crime, but a mental illness that requires attention. This was a sociopath taking control of children with his power. It’s hardly ever that a person sense a strange vibe whenever grown men are seen alone with children who aren’t theirs, but now would be a good time to be attentive, if something highly unusual is noticed.

If Davis, now 39, told the truth in an interview with ESPN – in which it’s hard to call an abused victim a liar – Fine began molesting him in 1984 and the sexual activities continued until he was around 27. The abuse took place at Fine’s home, Syracuse basketball facilities and on road trips. His stepbrother, Lang, was even molested while he was in the fifth or sixth grade. The other guy to come forward was Zach Tomaselli, 23, who said Sunday he told police that Fine sexually abused him in 2002 in Pittsburgh hotel room.

And you know what? In the wake of the news, not believing the victims and responding in defense of Fine, Boeheim was defensive, uncompromising, biased and politically inaccurate. By those remarks, he might have just risk so much, not only for defending his friend and the university’s brand but slamming the victims. We’ll soon find out whether he’ll be Syracuse basketball head coach in the coming days. Everybody deserves a chance to repair a school’s image, but normally when a coach has a relentless rant without having any knowledge it somewhat damages credibility. He certainly wasn’t thinking before he had spoken, and Boeheim’s unwise concept to blame the one’s hurt by all of this was obliviousness and downright ignorance.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Boeheim is fired. It’s not an irrational act. It’s not too late. But he won’t be fired, even if you make a strong case of his heartless words. For what we know, he’s not guilty of any crimes. For what we know, he wasn’t aware of these allegations — at least that is what he tells us. It’s hard to fire someone without evidence or eyewitnesses.

For what we know, despite the gloom and dark shades of this catastrophe, Boeheim will stay as Syracuse basketball head coach.