- Move comes amid renewed scrutiny of allegations made in 2005
- The allegations include "inappropriate contact" in the 1980s and 1990s
- "Bernie has my full support," head coach Jim Boeheim says
Syracuse University's associate men's basketball coach Bernie Fine was placed on administrative leave Thursday over a charge made by a man in 2005 of inappropriate contact that allegedly had occurred years before, and because of a newly reopened police investigation into the matter.
"In light of the new allegations and the Syracuse City Police investigation, this evening Chancellor (Nancy) Cantor asked Director of Athletics Dr. Daryl Gross, to place Associate Head Coach Bernie Fine on administrative leave," the school's senior vice president for public affairs, Kevin C. Quinn, said in a statement.
The accuser told Syracuse University officials six years ago that he had told Syracuse City Police that he had been "subjected to inappropriate contact by an associate men's basketball coach" during the 1980's and 1990's and that the police had told him that they would not pursue the case because the statute of limitations had expired, the statement said.
"On hearing of the allegations in 2005, the university immediately launched its own comprehensive investigation through its legal counsel," Quinn's statement added. "That nearly four-month-long investigation included a number of interviews with people the complainant said would support his claims. All of those identified by the complainant denied any knowledge of wrongful conduct by the associate coach. The associate coach also vehemently denied the allegations."
Had the school found evidence or corroboration of the allegations, "we would have terminated the associate coach and reported it to the police immediately," the statement says. "We understand that the Syracuse City Police has now reopened the case, and Syracuse University will cooperate fully."
"We are in the early stages of an investigation," Syracuse Police Department Public Information Officer Tom Connellan said Thursday night.
A woman answering the phone at Fine's home and identifying herslef as his wife, Laurie, declined to comment Thursday night.
In a statement, Syracuse University head men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim defended Fine. "This matter was fully investigated by the university in 2005 and it was determined that the allegations were unfounded," he said. "I have known Bernie Fine for more than 40 years. I have never seen or witnessed anything to suggest that he would been involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support."