Syracuse fires Bernie Fine in wake of third accuser

Syracuse University associate head basketball coach Bernie Fine was fired Sunday in the wake of an investigation of child molestation allegations against him. AP video. (Nov. 27)

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Longtime Syracuse assistant men's basketball coach Bernie Fine was fired Sunday night after a third man accused the coach of sexually abusing him as a teenager.

"At the direction of Chancellor [Nancy] Cantor, Bernie Fine's employment with Syracuse University has been terminated, effective immediately," Kevin Quinn, the school's senior vice president for public affairs, said in a statement.

Fine, 65, an assistant on coach Jim Boeheim's staff for 35 years, had been on administrative leave since two former Syracuse ball boys went public Nov. 17 on ESPN with their accusations that the longtime coach had sexually abused them in the 1980s and 1990s.

Fine had responded by calling the accusations "patently false." He could not be reached for comment Sunday night, and the upstate law firm representing him did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Boeheim, who fiercely defended Fine after ESPN aired the ball boys' allegations, Sunday night called the firing "appropriate" in a statement released by the university.

Fine's firing came on the same day the Syracuse Post-Standard reported that a 23-year-old from Lewiston, Maine, recently told police he was molested by Fine in a Pittsburgh hotel room in 2002.

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Syracuse police have not yet filed charges against Fine but launched an investigation after the initial report aired nearly two weeks ago. The Post-Standard also reported that police spent seven hours at Fine's home Friday executing a search warrant.

A police spokesman did not return a message seeking comment.

One of the accusers, former ball boy Bobby Davis, who now is 39, has handed over to police a tape recording of a 2002 phone conversation with Fine's wife, Laurie, in which she admits concerns about her husband's behavior. ESPN and the Post-Standard also have copies of the taped conversation.

"The issue at hand is that he had no business doing what he did with you," Laurie Fine is purported to have said on the tape. She also is said to admit that her husband "needs help" and "thinks he is above the law."

On the tape, Davis talks to Fine's wife about the abuse that he alleges took place, and at no point does Laurie Fine dispute the account. Davis alleges that Laurie once witnessed one of the incidents through a basement window.

In an email to the university community Nov. 18, Cantor said Davis initially had reported the allegations to the university in 2005. But after performing its own investigation, she said, "we were unable to find any corroboration of the allegations, the case was closed."

Boeheim, who hired Fine in 1975, initially accused the former Syracuse ball boys of trying to capitalize financially on the publicity surrounding the Penn State child sex abuse scandal.

Boeheim backed off his comments Sunday night, saying he is "personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged."

"What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found," he added. "I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse."

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