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SU’s Boeheim: Much To Be Learned About What Happened ‘On My Watch’

Fine's Alleged Betrayal Wears Thin On Proud Syracuse University Community
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Jim Boeheim (credit: Nate Shron/Getty Images), Bernie Fine (credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Jim Boeheim (credit: Nate Shron/Getty Images), Bernie Fine (credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor gave head basketball coach Jim Boeheim a vote of confidence on Tuesday. Hours later he spoke to the media about the sex abuse investigation into his former long-time assistant, Bernie Fine.

Boeheim met reporters following No. 4 Syracuse’s 84-48 win over Eastern Michigan at the Carrier Dome.

“I never worried about my job status in 36 years,” Boeheim said Tuesday night at his first postgame news conference since Fine was fired Sunday. “I do my job. What happened on my watch, we will see. When the investigation is done, we will find out what happened on my watch.”

Boeheim neither condemned, nor supported Fine, but tried to explain what his thought process was when he first defended his friend after the story broke almost two weeks ago.

“Based on what I knew at that time, there were three investigations and nothing was corroborated,” Boeheim said. “That was the basis for me saying what I said. I said what I knew at the time.

“I supported a friend,” he added. “That’s what I thought I did.  I’ve been with him for 36 years, known him for 48 years, went to school with him,” Boeheim said. “I think you owe a debt of allegiance and gratitude for what he did for the program. That’s what my reaction was. So be it.”

Fine has denied the allegations.

But what hurts the students on the SU campus the most is that Fine was one of them. At a university where pride runs deep the alleged betrayal is incomprehensible.

Students bristled at even the hint of a cover-up.

“At the end of the day this reflects on Syracuse University and that’s why honesty is needed at this point,” freshman Carlos Vermia of Hunts Points, N.Y. told CBS 2’s Lou Young.

The sex abuse charges first began surfacing 10 years ago. On Tuesday the city’s police department confirmed it was contacted by a victim in 2002 and that detectives told the victim the statute of limitations had run out because the abuse had happened so long ago.

The cops said they never launched a formal investigation.

The police chief back then was a former Syracuse basketball player, but the current chief insists there was no cover-up.

“The detective met his burden in the case,” Chief Frank Fowler said.

The district attorney here, though, was only able get the police department files on Fine by threatening court action. A spokesman confirmed the information arrived Tuesday morning.

“I have been told that the stuff has been delivered,” said Barry Weiss of the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office, adding its policy not to comment on ongoing investigations.

So now there are three separate investigations of Fine — state, federal and by the university.

There was no answer at Fine’s home Tuesday, nor at his former boss’ across the street.

For the moment at least the legendary head coach has retained his job. Chancellor Cantor, who fired Fine Sunday, expressed support for Boeheim on Tuesday.

“Coach Boeheim is our coach. … We’re very pleased with what he said Sunday night, and we stand by it,” Cantor said.

The chancellor, however, did not attend Tuesday night’s game, as she often does. Just what does that mean? We’ll all have to wait and see.

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

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