This Nov. 12, 2001 photo shows Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine talking to Fab Melo on the bench during a game against Fordham, in Syracuse, N.Y. (Dennis Nett/AP)

Syracuse basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine was placed on administrative leave after being accused of sexually molesting a team ball boy. As AP reported :

Syracuse University has placed longtime assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine on administrative leave “in light of the new allegations and the Syracuse City Police investigation.”

ESPN is reporting that police are investigating Fine on allegations of child molestation.

The investigation comes nearly two weeks after Penn State was devastated by a child sex-abuse case in which former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky is accused of sexual abuse involving eight boys over 15 years.

Sgt. Tom Connellan tells the Syracuse Post-Standard that police received information on the case Thursday and “are in the early stages of an investigation.”

ESPN first reported the allegations, saying Fine is accused of molesting a former Syracuse ball boy, who is now 39. The alleged victim told ESPN the abuse occurred at Fine’s home, at Syracuse basketball facilities and on team road trips, including the 1987 Final Four.

Fine is in his 35th season as an assistant to Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim. After a reporter knocked on the doors of the homes of Fine and Boeheim, he was told neither was home.

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim defended his assistant on Friday, and suggested that the accusers were motivated by money to step forward. As Cindy Boren explained:

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 chancellor Nancy Cantor sent an e-mail to the university community on Friday about the Fine allegations. Here is an excerpt from AP:

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.

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