Monday, September 1st, 2014

Instant Juice: Too early to react on Bernie Fine

Published on November 17, 2011 by   •   Discussion
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It is far too fresh and way too new to draw any conclusions from a shocking story released by ESPN on Thursday involving the SU men’s basketball team.

By now, you’ve probably read the report that associate coach Bernie Fine is under investigation by Syracuse police for allegedly molesting a team ball boy back in the 1980s.

In the coming weeks, a full and thorough investigation will be done, and weeks—perhaps months—from now, the truth will come out. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see what transpires.

The timing of the story is particularly interesting, because it comes on the heels of a larger than life scandal at Penn State involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky being indicted on charges of sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period. That led to the dismissal of legendary coach Joe Paterno.

But while it’s easy to draw the similarities between the two stories, as it stands right now, the stories are dramatically different in two key ways.

First, Sandusky has been indicted on criminal charges. That means that a police investigation was done in conjunction with prosecutors, and the two agencies felt there was enough evidence to go forward with the case.

In this situation, Fine has not been indicted, and is only being investigated. That isn’t to underscore the significance of a police investigation, but it is important to point out that the investigation could lead to something, or it could lead to nothing.

Second, much of the controversy around the Penn State matter dealt with the systematic failure across many administrative levels to properly act on the information at hand.

Although several key Penn State officials had knowledge of what was happening with Sandusky, it was never reported to the police.

Syracuse, on the other hand, conducted its own investigation in 2005, and the police department had knowledge of the accusations, as well. Again, we’ll find out in the coming weeks about how detailed the investigation was, but there is at least some level of accountability in the process.

One thing needs to be made clear: I’m not defending Fine. Nor am I supporting him.

I can’t, because I don’t know enough. No one does—yet. It’s far too early to think that this may follow in the footsteps of what happened at Penn State.

The time for that will come eventually, but that time isn’t now.

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