SU beats Eastern Michigan, but focus remains on Bernie Fine investigation
The SU basketball team kept its record perfect last night against Eastern Michigan, but the real story was Coach Boeheim's postgame press conference. It was his first time speaking publicly since longtime assistant Bernie Fine was fired Sunday under increasing allegations of sexual abuse. YNN Sports Director Mark Larson has more on the aftermath at the Dome.
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- For the first time in memory, there were two tiers of cameras inside the postgame press room after Tuesday night’s game as Jim Boeheim fielded questions about Bernie Fine. Coach Boeheim said he wanted to limit his comments until after the investigation is over, but that didn't stop the questions from coming.
Jim Boeheim has kept his sense of humor intact despite the fact his longtime assistant has been fired under increasing sexual abuse allegations. Some national sportswriters are now calling for his head. The 5th-winningest coach in college basketball history says he's not spending a second worrying about his future.
"I've never worried about my job status in 36 years. Many years I didn't even have a contract extension, I didn't have anything. When I worry about that I might have to get a job with you guys,” said Boeheim.
For almost 20 minutes, the sparring went on between Boeheim and the media, and for the most part, it was cordial and polite. When he got stuck, Boeheim referred to a statement he wrote up saying he wouldn't answer specific questions until the investigation into Fine's behaviors is complete. But he couldn't help from responding with defiance to a question of his responsibility for those actions.
“What happened on my watch, we will see. When the investigation is done, we will find out what happened on my watch. We don't know what's happened on my watch right now. My assistants work for me and I have absolute say on everything they do in the program. What people do outside the program, I have very little control over---adults,” said Boeheim.
Our YNN legal expert says that statement is a key indicator of how Boeheim and the school may plan to defend themselves if the allegations are found to be true.
“Control equates with responsibility. So I think that's a very important point that he was making and I think that's going to be at the heart of his positioning and probably of others at the University,” said legal analyst Paul DerOhannesian.
The weirdest part of the press conference was when Boeheim's wife and others applauded her husband as the coach refused to retract his original statement supporting alleged child molester Bernie Fine.
“I supported a friend, that's what I thought I did. I'm proud I did. I think when you've worked with somebody for 36 years and known somebody for 48 years, you went to school with them---I think you owe a debt of allegiance and gratitude for what he did for the program. That's what my reaction was, and so be it,” said Boeheim.
Coach Boeheim says his players will continue to keep their focus on basketball as they put their perfect record on the line again Friday night against Florida.