Jim Boeheim took to the podium after the game against Eastern Michigan Tuesday night, and addressed the Bernie Fine situation. He was at times contrite, at times thoughtful, and at other times, more forceful and resolute.
He spoke about his initial defense of Bernie Fine, which included accusing Bobby Davis of lying and that it was all about money.
I supported a friend, that’s what I thought I did. I’m proud that I did. I think if you’ve known somebody and worked with somebody for 36 years and known them for 48 years and went to school with them, you went to school with them, I think you owe a debt of allegiance and gratitude for what he did with for the program, and that’s what my reaction was, and . . . so be it.
I’ve already shared my thoughts on those initial statements, and I think that as a friend, some of those statements are to be expected, but as a leader at an institution, some of them went too far. I don’t think the debt of allegiance to Bernie Fine justifies attacking a potential victim before details have emerged; express support, fine, attack potential victims and create a chilling effect, not fine. It was more justification than apology. I don’t get the feeling Boeheim thinks what he did was wrong.
He also said that no ball boys have traveled with the team (“as ball boys”), a key potential distinction as we know that Bobby Davis went on trips with Bernie Fine’s family, and the question of whether he actually traveled “with the team” or separately as a guest of Bernie Fine could matter in the future.
He also talked about finding out what happened “on my watch”, a phrase he used often, and from his tone, I think he feels he did not do anything wrong other than trust Bernie Fine.
Boeheim also closed with some classic Boeheim: “I’ve never worried about my job status in 36 years . . . when I worry about that, I may have to get a job with you guys.”
I will say this, Boeheim at least came forward and talked about it, rather than, like Penn State did, announce a press conference where only questions about the game would be addressed, then cancel it. I thought he handled himself as well as possible given the circumstances. It’s clear that for now, he, and Syracuse University, aren’t giving in to the calls from groups around the country and writers for him to be terminated for his statements about the victim.
Previously: ESPN’s Role in the Bernie Fine Investigation is Troubling
Previously: Bernie Fine’s Wife Knew About the Possibility of Abuse, and Had a Sexual Relationship With the Accuser Also
Previously: Jim Boeheim on Bernie Fine’s Accuser: “The Kid is … Trying to Get Money”
Previously: Jim Boeheim on Bernie Fine: “There’s Absolutely No Way I Believe Any of This Could Have Possibly Happened”