Stop the Madness: Syracuse Allegations


First off let me express how excited I am to be a member of the FanSided Network and of course to be part of the “Empire Writes Back” project, which will be talking about the college and pro teams in New York State. When I spoke to Adam Best about this fantastic opportunity I told him that I was not one to sit on the fence and that my posts would reflect that. With this in mind, and with the fact that the Salt City is going to be part of the coverage, I think it’s only right that I begin with a piece about Syracuse University and the allegations against assistant head coach Bernie Fine.

Let’s begin by saying this, whether Fine is guilty or not the bell rung by ESPN with its reporting is one that will never be unrung! This is the electronic era and a story like this, at any major college, is going to run like a wild fire from the moment it’s made public. Add to this the reality that a week before the college football world stopped thinking about anything and everything and focused on Penn State and their scandal, that the Citadel also had a scandal of its own and from a story that could have been looked at in one way is now being grouped in with the other two. I am not saying that this should be kept quiet, or swept under the rug, what I am battling myself with is did ESPN pull the trigger on this story a bit too quickly? Did the World Leader in Sports go with this one just because of what has happened in two other colleges rather than because of the story itself?

When I read and re-read all that has been part of this storyline, which began in 2002, I draw the conclusion that maybe just a bit more could have been done by Mark Schwarz before putting all of this to the four winds on “Outside the Line”, which is the 60 Minutes of sports. From what I have read ESPN did not run this story when they had it in 2008, because no one could be found to support the accuser’s statements. Now, because of the PSU debacle it seems another man, his step brother, has come out and so the story was run. But by no means are the two stories even close to being similar! The first scenario has a person who is now in jail and a slew of other grown men who could have done something but decided to do absolutely nothing. While in this scenario we have at first one person, then two, having said their story and now the process begins to see if any of their allegations are true. In the first one the media began to dig once the police had made an arrest and many people had gone in front of the grand jury. In this one nothing of the sort has happened.

And because of the avalanche that media stories like this create some things do not get seen, on both sides of the story. For the supporters of Bernie Fine, including head coach Jim Boeheim, who said this is about the money, it’s not…

"“The case is likely to face difficulty whether a civil lawsuit or criminal charges are brought because the time for filing a lawsuit or prosecuting a crime appears to have passed,” said Suzanne Goldberg, a Columbia University law professor and director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law."

But for the ones that support the accuser you have to ask yourself this…

"Bobby Davis says abuse occurred in Maui, New Orleans… but his mom says he didn’t fly with the team because he didn’t like to fly. (Niko Tamurian)"

But my question is still the same: Would ESPN have held the story and dug some more before going on the air if nothing had happened in Penn State? More and more the thoughts of that are yes, and that in the end is going to hurt the innocent, whether it’s the two men who have come forward or the assistant head coach at Syracuse University. Any law enforcement agent will tell you that any inquiries of this type would best be done without a spotlight on them. I am old enough to remember when the newspapers were still on top of the information fury and each day my father would bring the New York Times home. On the top left it said “All the news that’s fit to print”. I love the era of blogs but I still try to keep that phrase in mind before I hit enter on my posts because it takes just one accusation like this to destroy a man and all the apologies in the world will never clear his name totally, there will always be a doubt.