By Gary Parrish
Syracuse University announced Sunday that associate head coach Bernie Fine has been terminated.
"At the direction of Chancellor Cantor, (Syracuse associate men's basketball coach) Bernie Fine’s employment with Syracuse University has been terminated, effective immediately," Syracuse University Senior Vice President for Public Affairs Kevin Quinn said via a statement on the school's athletics website.
This development comes on the same day audio was made public from a phone conversation between Fine's wife and Bobby Davis, the latter of whom is one of three men who have alleged they were sexually abused by Fine while they were children. In the conversation, Fine's wife, Laurie Fine, appears to confirm that she was aware that Fine molested Davis. She said her husband "has issues."
"I know everything that went on, you know," she said on the call. "I know everything that went on with him ... Bernie has issues, maybe that he's not aware of, but he has issues ... And you trusted somebody you shouldn't have trusted. ... Bernie is also in denial. I think that he did the things he did, but he's somehow through his own mental telepathy has erased them out of his mind."
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim last week strongly defended Fine and accused the first two alleged victims -- former Syracuse ball boys Bobby Davis and Mike Lang -- of lying and trying to extort money. Boeheim released a statement late Sunday about an hour after Fine was fired and indicated he regretted attacking the accusers.
“The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling," Boeheim said. "I am personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged. I believe the university took the appropriate step tonight. 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. I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse."
Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor also released a statement late Sunday.
"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," she said. "We do not tolerate abuse. If anything good comes out of this tragedy, it will be that this basic principle is reinforced."
The 65-year-old Fine was in his 36th season at Syracuse. He was placed on administrative leave on Nov. 17 after police confirmed they were investigating charges of molestation, and after ESPN aired interviews of Davis and Lang alleging Fine sexually abused them. The case seemed to stall for a few days after that, but police raided Fine's home Friday, and the damaging audio of the phone conversation between Davis and Fine's wife was made public early Sunday around the same time a third accuser publicly surfaced, too.
"It was the [Jerry] Sandusky stuff that came out that really made me think about it," the third accuser, Zach Tomaselli, told the Syracuse Post-Standard. "A lot of people were slamming ESPN and Bobby for saying anything. I wanted to come out. ... It made me sick to see all that support for Fine at that point. I was positive he was guilty."
Tomaselli, 23, told the Associated Press on Sunday that he's told police that Fine molested him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room the night before the Orange played Pittsburgh. He said Fine touched him "multiple times" in that one incident. Tomaselli's father, Fred Tomaselli, told the Associated Press that he thinks his son is lying.
"I'm 100 percent sure that Bernie Fine was never in contact with Zach," Fred Tomaselli said. "He never went to Pittsburgh to a game, never been to that arena. ... I brought him to a couple of games in Syracuse. We always sat in the nosebleed section and left after the game. He never stayed for any overnighters and never even got within shouting distance of Bernie."