Jim Boeheim addresses the media
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Two days after his associate head coach was fired, a surprisingly conversational Jim Boeheim met with the media for the first time following Syracuse's 84-48 win over Eastern Michigan.
Boeheim, who has been known to be fiery and downright combative in the face of questions he's not interested in answering, first read from a statement he said he prepared with a friend but then answered assorted questions for nearly 20 minutes.
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He stressed that until an inquiry is complete, any presumptions -- including what he did or did not know about Bernie Fine's alleged molestation of two former ball boys and another youngster -- is premature.
"What happened on my watch, we'll see," Boeheim said. "When the investigation is done, we'll find out what happened on my watch. Right now there are no charges, no indictment, no grand jury and no action has been taken. When that's done, we'll see what happened on my watch."
Boeheim added that his remarks shouldn't be construed as him doubting the charges or accusations, but merely a statement that the investigation is pending.
He did, however, seem to argue one of former ball boy Bobby Davis' most critical facts -- that part of the abuse occurred when he traveled with the Syracuse basketball team as a ball boy.
"No ball boys traveled with our team, they never have," he said, repeating the statement again. "We've had ball boys move on to other positions and it's not unusual from time to time to have people with our group, but not ball boys."
The coach's tenor has changed dramatically in the past week.
When Fine's first accusers, Davis and his stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, went public with their allegations, Boeheim called them "a bunch of a thousand lies," and said he believed their motives were purely financial.
But on Sunday, after ESPN aired a tape between Davis and Fine's wife, Laurie, in which Laurie Fine intimated that she knew what was going on between her husband and Davis, Boeheim released a much more subdued statement.
On Tuesday night, Boeheim did not back off his support of Fine, but tried to douse the initial statements with an explanation.
"I was supporting a friend, that's what I thought I was doing," he said, adding that he did not know about the existence of the tape. "If you know somebody for 30 years, if you went to school with him, for what he did for this program, I thought he deserved my allegiance and my gratitude. ... I said when more facts came forward and more facts did come forward, and the university made a change. You know so much one day and three or four days later you know more."
As for the burning question -- his job security -- Boeheim was dismissive.
Earlier on Tuesday, university chancellor Nancy Cantor offered her support. Following an unrelated meeting in Albany, Cantor said, "He is our coach."
"Can I tell you something? I've never worried about my job status," Boeheim said. "In 36 years, there have been times when I didn't have a contract or a contract extension. When I start worrying about my job status, I need to get a job with you guys."
Finally, Boeheim insisted that the swirling rumors and scrutiny would do nothing to distract the Orange (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today, No. 4 AP), a sentiment his players echoed in the locker room.
"It's hard for all of us. It's hard for Syracuse University. It's hard for the whole country," Scoop Jardine said. "But we have to do our jobs just like you all have to do yours."
Dana O'Neil covers the NCAA for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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