Bernie Fine Drops $11 Million Lawsuit Against ESPN

Ethan GrantAnalyst IJuly 2, 2013

NEW YORK - MARCH 12: Assistant coach Bernie Fine of the Syracuse Orange looks on from the sidelines during their game against the Connecticut Huskies during the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Former Syracuse assistant men's basketball coach Bernie Fine has dropped an $11 million lawsuit he filed against ESPN back in March. The suit stemmed from various accusations of sexual misconduct with young boys when he was with the Orange. 

Dylan Segelbaum of The Daily Orange reported on Twitter that Fine has chosen to drop the case:

Fine, according to a report from's Jeremy Ryan, asked for the case to be dismissed in documents submitted to the U.S. District Court in Syracuse on Tuesday afternoon. also obtained a copy of the documents that were submitted by Fine's lawyers, which you can view by clicking here

Ryan's report also included statements obtained from Fine's legal team, Harris Beach PLLC, and a representative from ESPN. Here's the statement from the Harris Beach firm:

On Tuesday, July 2, 2013, Bernie Fine filed a voluntary Notice of Dismissal of his lawsuit against ESPN, ending all litigation. Although Mr. Fine and his attorneys are convinced that his legal claim has merit, Mr. Fine desires to finally put all of the turmoil of the past year and a half behind him, so that he may concentrate on his future as well as the future of his family. Mr. Fine has been and continues to be overwhelmed by the many, many friends who have stood by him and who provided him with the strength to get through the most difficult time in his life. He will be forever grateful for their support and friendship.

ESPN's director of public relations David Scott also fired back at the news:

Given the continued pendency of the Laurie Fine matter, which we will continue to defend vigorously, we will not discuss litigation. We can confirm this action is not the result of a settlement and that Bernie Fine or his lawyers would have to be contacted regarding their reasons for doing this.

Fine first came under fire in November of 2011, when ESPN helped spread a report in which ex-Syracuse ballboys Bobby Davis and Mike Lang accused Fine of inappropriate contact and molestation during the course of Fine's 35-year career with Jim Boeheim at Syracuse. 

The 67-year-old coach was placed on leave in late November of that year. This ESPN report from Mark Schwartz and Arty Berko captures the allegations against Fine, and notes that the accusers felt comfortable coming forward in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky situation at Penn State earlier that year. 

Fine was later fired from Syracuse University on Nov. 27, 2011. 

As reported by Jessica Iannetta of The Daily Orange in March, Fine filed a defamation lawsuit against the sports conglomerate for reporting sex claims against him. That report also details a similar lawsuit filed by Fine's wife, Laurie, against Schwartz and Berko for specific claims against her person. 

Per the story, Laurie Fine's lawsuit was not withdrawn on Tuesday. According to a report from Nate Mink and the Syracuse Post-Standard, the reason behind that decision is that Fine will now join his wife's suit against ESPN instead. 

Here's an excerpt from a letter obtained by the Post-Standard on the decision to drop Fine's case:

According to the letter, the consolidation of the cases are for pre-trial purposes, with Laurie's case designated as the lead case...Laurie and Bernie Fine have not yet agreed to have both cases tried together, should the case reach the trial stage, the letter reads.

Whether Fine and his wife will present their cases to the U.S. District Court in Syracuse remains to be seen, but his $11 million request for libel from the network has officially been withdrawn.