Syracuse asst. basketball coach Bernie Fine put on leave following allegations of sex abuse

In this Nov. 14, 2011, photo, Syracuse basketball assistant coach Bernie Fine watches a college basketball game against Manhattan in the NIT Season Tip-Off in Syracuse, N.Y.
AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli, File
Bernie Fine
Bernie Fine.
AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli, File

(CBS/AP) SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine has been placed on administrative leave while police investigate allegations that he molested two team ball boys more than 20 years ago.

Bobby Davis, now 39, claimed in an interview with ESPN Thursday that Fine began abusing him in 1984. Davis said that the alleged abuse occurred at Fine's home, on team road trips and at Syracuse basketball facilities. He said the sexual contact continued until he was 27.

Davis' stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, who was also a ball boy, also told ESPN that Fine began molesting him when he was in fifth or sixth grade.

According to ESPN, the network first investigated Davis' allegations in 2003 but found no evidence to corroborate the accusations and decided not the run the story. The Syracuse Post-Standard newspaper also said that it held off reporting in 2003 for the same reason.

According to a statement by Kevin Quinn, the university's senior vice president for public affairs, Syracuse investigated allegations "inappropriate contact by an associate men's basketball coach" in 2005. But when they interviewed people that the accuser said would support his allegations, they all "denied any knowledge of wrongful conduct."

Fine was placed on administrative leave Thursday while the university looks into the allegations anew.

"We hold everyone in our community to high standards and we don't tolerate illegal, abusive or unethical behavior - no matter who you are," Syracuse Chancellor Nancy Cantor said in an email Friday morning to students, faculty and staff.

Fine denies the allegations and Syracuse head basketball coach Jim Boeheim is coming to his defense, issuing a statement saying: "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 (have) been involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support."

Davis told ESPN that Boeheim knew he was traveling on the road and sleeping in Fine's room.

"Boeheim saw me with Bernie all the time in the hotel rooms, on road trips," Davis said. "He'd come in, and see me laying in the bed, kind of glance at me like, `What are you doing here?' But he wouldn't say that. He'd just scowl. And I would look at him like, I'd be nervous. I felt embarrassed `cause I felt stupid that I'm there. I'm not supposed to be here. I know it, and Boeheim's not stupid."

In a telephone interview Thursday night with the AP, Boeheim said: "This kid came forward and there was no one to corroborate his story. Not one. Not one. ... They said I walked into Bernie's room on the road and saw this. I have never walked into Bernie's room on the road. This isn't true. This just isn't true."

Syracuse police spokesman Tom Connellan said the investigation is in its early stages. He said police were given information on Thursday but declining to identify who provided it.