November 18, 2011
The associate men's basketball coach at Syracuse University on Friday called allegations that he inappropriately touched two boys starting more than 20 years ago "patently false in every aspect."
The university placed Bernie Fine on administrative leave Thursday after the accusations surfaced.
Bobby Davis, 39, a former ball boy for the school's basketball team, told ESPN on Thursday evening that Fine molested him "hundreds of times" over the course of 16 years, starting from when he was in the fifth or sixth grade.
Davis told university officials six years ago that he informed Syracuse, New York, police that he had been "subjected to inappropriate contact by an associate men's basketball coach" during the 1980s and 1990s, according to university Senior Vice President Kevin C. Quinn.
Police had originally told Davis that they would not pursue the case because the statute of limitations had expired, Quinn said in a statement Thursday.
On hearing of the allegations in 2005, the university launched its own investigation through its legal counsel, Quinn said.
"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."
Had the school found evidence or corroboration of the allegations, it would have terminated the associate coach and reported the case to the police, the statement said.
But Davis' stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, told ESPN on Thursday that Fine also molested him "15 to 20 times," kick-starting a new police investigation.
"I didn't feel right about it and told him, 'Bernie, don't do that to me,' but he kept doing it again and again," Lang, also once a ball boy for the team, told ESPN.
In a statement Friday, Fine again denied the newest claims against him, saying "simply put, these allegations are patently false in every aspect. ... I am confident that, as in the past, a review of these allegations will be discredited and restore my reputation."
Police say they reopened the investigation after Lang came forward.
Quinn said the university "will cooperate fully" with the investigation.
Davis alleged that Fine started touching him inappropriately when he was in sixth grade or so, at about age 10 or 11.
The touching included rubbing his genitals and occurred at Fine's home, at university basketball facilities and during road trips, Davis said on ESPN's "Outside the Lines."
"I didn't feel right about it," he said. "He'd do it again and again. ... Made you feel odd."
Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Boeheim defended Fine.
"This matter was fully investigated by the university in 2005, and it was determined that the allegations were unfounded," he said in a statement. "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."
Former player Gerry McNamara will fill in for Fine while he is on leave, Boeheim said Friday.