Chancellor stands by Jim Boeheim

Updated: November 29, 2011, 10:17 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor gave men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim a vote of confidence Tuesday amid an investigation of child molestation allegations against his former longtime assistant coach.

Cantor emerged from an economic development conference with state officials and said: "Coach Boeheim is our coach."

Some commentators and sexual-abuse victims' advocates have said Boeheim should resign or be fired after three men, including two former Syracuse ball boys, accused former assistant coach Bernie Fine of molesting them, and after Boeheim verbally attacked the accusers.

"Coach Boeheim is our coach; he's getting the team ready tonight," Cantor said. "We're very pleased with what he said Sunday night, and we stand by him."

In his 36th season at his alma mater, Hall of Famer Boeheim ranks fifth all-time in wins in Division I and has a record 33 20-win seasons.

Boeheim received a standing ovation as he walked onto the court that bears his name on Tuesday night for the game against Eastern Michigan. Fine's seat on the bench was not left vacant Tuesday as it had been for the last home game 10 days ago.

Following the game, an 84-48 Orange victory over Eastern Michigan, Boeheim said "what happened on my watch" will be revealed once police complete their investigation of child molestation accusations against his former assistant.

"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."

After initially saying Fine's first two accusers were lying to make money in the wake of the Penn State sexual-abuse scandal, Boeheim backed off those comments in a statement Sunday.

"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," Boeheim said after Fine was fired Sunday. "I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse."

New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, who led Syracuse to its lone national championship in 2003 and has an athletic building named after him on campus, briefly addressed the ongoing saga at his alma mater Tuesday.

"My heart goes out to the families and that's it. I have no comment on the Fine situation or the Boeheim situation. That's a sensitive situation, a sensitive topic that I don't even want to go near."

Fine, who became an assistant coach at Syracuse in 1976, has denied the allegations.

On Tuesday, Syracuse's police chief said that Dennis DuVal, a former Syracuse basketball player who was police chief in 2002, knew of the allegations against Fine.

On Nov. 17, Davis' allegations resurfaced.

Boeheim 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.

-- Jim Boeheim, Syracuse head coach

Bobby Davis, now 39, told ESPN that Fine molested him beginning in 1984 and that the sexual contact continued until he was around 27. A ball boy for six years, Davis said the abuse occurred at Fine's home, at Syracuse basketball facilities and on team road trips, including the 1987 Final Four. Davis' stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, who also was a ball boy, also told ESPN that Fine began molesting him while he was in fifth or sixth grade.

A third man, Zach Tomaselli, who faces sexual assault charges in Maine involving a 14-year-old boy, said Sunday he told police last week that Fine molested him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room. Also on Sunday, ESPN played an audiotape, obtained and recorded by Davis, of an October 2002 telephone conversation between him and Fine's wife, Laurie. ESPN said it hired a voice recognition expert to verify the voice on the tape and the network said it was determined to be that of Laurie Fine.

During the call to the woman, Davis repeatedly asks her what she knew about the alleged molestation and she says she knew "everything that went on."

Police chief Frank Fowler said DuVal, who played for the Orange from 1972 to 1974, was aware of Davis' accusations in 2002 that Fine sexually abused him.

Because Davis said the abuse stopped 12 years earlier, Syracuse Det. Doug Fox told him the statute of limitations had passed, meaning an arrest was not possible.

Fox advised his supervisor in the abused persons unit but didn't file a formal report.

A phone message left by The Associated Press with DuVal was not immediately returned. The Post-Standard newspaper contacted DuVal on Monday, but he refused to answer questions.

"I'm not going to talk to you about it. I hope you respect that. It's been a long time. I'm not going to get into a discussion about that. Not gonna happen," DuVal said, according to the newspaper.

Fowler said in a statement that police now will formally document all reports of sexual abuse.

Cantor stressed that the university is working with authorities.

"We've been very straightforward and candid about this whole process," she said. "We've gone through our due diligence when things came up, and we felt it was important both for Bernie Fine and for the university to move forward."

The chancellor has previously acknowledged that a man, now known to be Davis, contacted the school in 2005 with allegations against Fine. The school, which did not contact police, conducted its own investigation at that time but was unable to find any corroboration of the allegations. The university has turned over the results of the inquiry to the DA's office and has retained an independent law firm to review their procedures and response to those 2005 allegations.

The U.S. Attorney's Office and the U.S. Secret Service have taken the lead in the current investigation.

And Fowler said Syracuse police will change their procedures moving forward.

"I was not the chief in 2002 and I cannot change the procedures in place at that time or the way this matter was then handled," Fowler said in the statement. "But what I can and will do as chief today is ensure that moving forward all reports of sexual abuse are formally documented."

In an interview with the AP, Fowler said he wouldn't be notified about all sex abuse allegations. But in a high-profile case like the Fine investigation: "I'm very confident I would know about it. I'm sure it would be brought to my immediate attention."

The chief also said the department only notifies the district attorney when an arrest is made, not during the investigation phase. Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick has been sharply critical of the police for not sharing the information from the 2002 allegations or from the current investigation.

Fowler has ordered a review of all department policies regarding sexual abuse allegations made over the phone and will make changes if needed. A phone database now logs every call the department receives.

He gave this account of what the department knew, and when of the 2002 allegations:

• A local attorney called Det. Doug Fox of the Syracuse Police Department's Abused Persons Unit in 2002 to say that he'd be getting a call from a woman, now known to be Davis' friend Danielle Roach, who wanted to discuss a sexual abuse case.

• Several weeks later, Roach called Fox and said Fine had sexually abused her friend. Fox told her to tell her friend to contact him directly. About a month later, he called the detective from Utah. In what Fowler described as a brief conversation, Davis said Fine had sexually abused him while growing up and that the abuse had occurred at least 12 years earlier.

• Fox told him the statute of limitations had expired, so he couldn't make an arrest. Fox told Davis that if he wanted to meet in person or if he was aware of any current victims, he wanted Davis to share additional information. The two never met face to face.

• Fox notified his supervisor, and they decided that unless Davis met with the detective or provided names of other victims, then no investigation would be started. No formal report was prepared.

• Several months later, in 2003, the department received an inquiry from the Syracuse Post-Standard newspaper as to whether an investigation had been conducted on Fine. The Post Standard was informed no investigation had taken place.

Fowler said the police department never met in person with any possible victim until Nov. 17 of this year and began its ongoing investigation on that day.

On that same day, Fowler said, the university handed over results of an internal 2005 investigation into sexual abuse charges against Fine; this was the first time Syracuse police learned of that inquiry.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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