Bernie Fine Canned; Boeheim’s Fate Rests On Issue Of Complicity
I would love for today’s post to be about how Syracuse dug itself out of a pair of second half deficits against Power Six opponents to gut out two nice victories. I’d love to talk about how much I enjoyed the lineup of Brandon Triche, Dion Waiters, Kris Joseph, C.J. Fair and Fab Melo to close out the win over Virginia Tech and the remarkable offensive rebounding prowess displayed against Stanford. That will have to wait for another time.
Last night, Bernie Fine was terminated by the school, which was about as easy a call as there is, despite how slowly Penn State operated. As many twists as the story has taken, it would be a colossal distraction and massive PR failure by the school were Fine to return to work at any point, and there is no realistic set of circumstances capable of fully restoring his reputation. What was a foregone conclusion is finally official, but it doesn’t bring any closure to the matter.
The case is now faced with a third accuser with an odd background, questions as to why ESPN nor the Post-Standard opted not to bring the recording to the proper authorities, what to make of the grudges among Syracuse Police, District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick and Mayor Stephanie Miner. And maybe of lowest priority but of greatest curiosity – what in the world made Laurie Fine decide that a proper response to her knowledge of the situation would be to have an affair with the victim, rather than bringing a close account to the authorities (to say nothing of getting out of the marriage)? It’s going to be awhile before we know the complete truth, if it ever comes out.
With Fine out of the program, the spotlight is now squarely on Jim Boeheim. It’s been mentioned before, but it’s worth reiterating that he made a spectacularly poor decision in attacking Fine’s accusers. While he had all the right in the world to support his friend and colleague, gross counter-accusations of extortion attempts and a slew of personal attacks should not have been a part of his public comments, and that assessment is not something that only works in hindsight. While disgustingly insensitive and shameful, I don’t think that part of the narrative is a fireable offense on its own, despite what many have posited. There are enough holes in the accusers’ stories and backgrounds that it isn’t unreasonable to believe that they’re out for money and/or fame, even if their allegations prove to be true. Rather, the only presumption keeping Boeheim’s employment intact is that to this point, there remains nothing other than one accuser’s hearsay that indicates that Boeheim knew any of the alleged abuse took place. Should that thread by which Boeheim’s hanging be cut, he definitely should be shown the door, no questions asked.
That brings us to the statement
given by attributed to Boeheim following Fine’s dismissal. While it voiced regret over his original comments, the damage was already done, and the apology should not have been prefaced by the surfacing of damning evidence. It also seized the opportunity to emphasize that he never saw a thing, which we should only take at face value. The investigation is still in its beginning stages, and I have a feeling that things will get worse before they get better. Until then, the only thing left to cling to is the hope that Boeheim and the school had no direct knowledge of the abuse alleged to have taken place, as if that should be encouraging.