As a sexual abuse scandal continues to rock Penn State University, ESPN reports that police near Syracuse University are also looking into claims that one of its assistant coaches in the men's basketball program sexually abused at least one boy for decades.
Bernie Fine, currently in his 35th season with Syracuse's basketball team, is accused of molesting one of the team's ballboys for nearly two decades, starting in the mid-1980s. CBS Sports is now reporting Fine has been placed on administrative leave by the university.
Syracuse Police told CBS affiliate WTVH: "We are in the early stages of an investigation into allegations about Bernie Fine."
Head basketball coach Jim Boeheim, in an official statement, said: "This matter was fully investigated by the University in 2005 and it was determined that the allegations were unfounded. I have known Bernie Fine for more than 40 years. I have never seen or witnessed anything to suggest that he would be involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support."
ESPN reports: "The alleged victim, Bobby Davis, now 39, told Outside the Lines that Fine molested him beginning in 1983 shortly before Davis entered the seventh grade. Davis, the team's ball boy for six years beginning in 1984, said the abuse occurred at Fine's home, at the Syracuse basketball facilities, and on road trips, including the 1987 Final Four. In addition, a second man -- a relative of Davis -- told OTL that he was also molested by Fine around the same time as the first boy."
In a statement, Kevin Quinn, Syracuse's senior vice president for public affairs, said that the university first heard of the allegations in 2005, and that they contacted Syracuse police, who did not pursue the matter because "the statute of limitations had expired."
Quinn also claimed that Syracuse launched its own investigation at the time, but that the numerous people they interviewed denied any wrongdoing by Fine, as did the coach himself.
"Syracuse University takes any allegation of this sort extremely seriously and has zero tolerance for abuse of any kind. If any evidence or corroboration of the allegations had surfaced, we would have terminated the associated coach and reported it to the police immediately. We understand that the Syracuse City Police has now reopened the case, and Syracuse University will cooperate fully. We are steadfastly committed ensuring that SU remains a safe place for every member of our campus community," Quinn said in the statement.
For its part, ESPN claims it had sat on the allegations against Fine since 2003, and that it only decided to air the report after a second person came forward claiming to be molested by Fine. The second person claimed to have been inspired to come forward by the Penn State scandal.