Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim has gone to school and worked with Bernie Fine for 50 years and his defense of his assistant coach, accused of molestation by two former ball boys Thursday, was vigorous and unequivocal.
“This is alleged to have occurred ... what? Twenty years ago?” Boeheim said in an interview with Syracuse.com. “Am I in the right neighborhood? It might be 26 years ago? So we are supposed to what? Stop the presses 26 years later? For a false allegation? For what I absolutely believe is a false allegation? I know [the accuser is] lying about me seeing him in his hotel room. That's a lie. If he's going to tell one lie, I'm sure there's a few more of them.”
Bobby Davis, 39, and his stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, told ESPN that Fine, a coach at Syracuse for 36 years, molested them beginning in the late 1970s and extending into the 1990s. (Watch Davis “Outside the Lines” interview; contents are graphic.) Davis alleges that Boeheim saw him in Fine’s hotel room on road trips, including the 1987 Final Four in New Orleans.
Boeheim did say that Davis lived in Fine’s basement for a while when he was a teenager and traveled at time with the team to babysit Fine’s children. Boeheim said he believes Davis and Lang, after the Jerry Sandusky-Penn State child sex abuse scandal broke, were motivated by money to step forward now.
“The Penn State thing came out and the kid behind this is trying to get money. He's tried before. And now he's trying again. If he gets this, he's going to sue the university and Bernie,” Boeheim said. “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.”
Syracuse University chancellor Nancy Cantor has promised to “do everything in our power to find the truth” and the Syracuse police department is investigating the claims by the two men. Fine has been placed on administrative leave.
Davis told ESPN that he was sexually abused “hundreds of times” and that his resistance made Fine more aggressive. He said he did not report the abuse because “I honestly didn't think anybody would believe me.” He alleges he was molested until he was around 27. Lang alleges that Fine touched his genitals “probably 15, 20 times.”
Davis said he reported the abuse to authorities in 2003, but was told that the statute of limitations had expired. ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” investigated Davis’ allegations story in 2003 but did not run the story because no other victims would talk. That changed when Lang came forward.