Bernie Fine Scandal: Has This Syracuse Orange Basketball Story Hit Its Climax?

Andrew Pregler@ACPreglerContributor IIINovember 28, 2011

In high school, almost every English student in my school was taught the Freytag pyramid.

Essentially, every drama had rising action, where all the characters were introduced and the storyline was set in place.

Every drama had a climax, where the main action of the story unfolded, the singular event that was at the heart of the story.

Finally, every drama had falling action, where the aftermath of the climax was felt and the characters dealt with the repercussions. 

While the Bernie Fine scandal may not be as dramatic, eloquent or as memorable as the classic Greek dramas, it is just as complicated and intricate.

We have seen the rising action now unfold over the last couple of weeks.

We met Bobby Davis and Mike Lang, stepbrothers who were allegedly both molested as ball boys by Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine on numerous occasions.

We heard strong remarks from Jim Boeheim, defending his friend of 50 years and the program he has helped lead to national prominence. 

We saw the Syracuse Post Standard and university both cling to their previous investigations and stories, claiming their investigations were simply not conclusive enough to do what ESPN has done with the story.

We saw the District Attorney and Police Chief publicly challenge the longstanding relationship of media and criminal investigations.

We even saw the mayor of Syracuse step in, defending the police, drawing battle lines against the DA's office, almost guaranteeing that this drama will somehow effect the investigation going forward. 

Then we met more characters to complicate the plot even further. 


First, there was the phone conversation which, if authenticated and used as evidence, proves Laurie Fine is just as big of a character in this story as her husband.

According to the tape, Laurie Fine not only knew about the alleged abuse, but knew her husband consistently desired "male companionship."

Furthermore, this tape eludes to a sexual relationship between Laurie Fine and Bobby Davis, twisting this story even further.

The alleged encounter between Davis and Bernie Fine on this matter only further corroborates Bernie Fine's alleged desire for male intimacy as according to Davis, he did not even get angry. 

Furthermore, this call eluded that there was a victim number three, first unnamed, now discovered to be Zach Thomaselli.

Thomaselli could be the key to the rest of Bernie Fine's life as the allegations he brings involve molesting across state lines, a charge that would involve federal authorities and extend the statute of limitations to a point where Fine could be imprisoned. 

All of this has led to the inevitable: Bernie Fine has been fired by Syracuse University. 

Everyone knew this was coming, the questions were just when and under what circumstances. 

Many would look to this as the climax to the story.

Davis' accusations have gained more credibility by the day and fans have had their emotions go from anger to shock and grief. However, there are still far too many unanswered questions that could still reveal more shocking revelations to the scandal. 

First, where was this call in 2002 and 2005? The university says it never heard the tape. The Post Standard allegedly never heard the tape. Did ESPN not have this tape in 2003?


This was perhaps one of the most damning pieces of evidence against the Fine's that Davis had, and the conversation happened on October 8, 2002 so the university's investigation should have uncovered this tape.

All along, no one gave Davis publicity because of "lack of evidence or sources."

If ESPN has had this tape since the onset, why was it not unveiled as part of the news breaking? 

Continuing with ESPN, what exactly is their role here?

Are they truly the only news outlet Davis trusts?

Or are they leaking evidence and information to keep a story going?

Should they, as a company that has a contract to televise Syracuse games as part of the Big East Network, be allowed to even cover this as they are?

Is ESPN actually running this investigation rather than the police? 

Moving back to Syracuse, what is the university going to do now?

They did the right thing in confronting the story head on, but it appears as if they too have been blindsided by ESPN's new information.

This 2005 investigation is going to be dissected and analyzed like never before, but as of now, they at least appear to have the same defense as everyone else: we had no idea this was how bad it (allegedly) was. 

And the final burning question: what of Jim Boeheim's future with Syracuse?

Some are calling for him to step down on the basis that his initial comments were too harsh and insensitive.

Others are saying he did what anyone would do for a friend of 50 years: he defended him as Bernie Fine told the world the allegations were false.

The legal ramifications for Boeheim will be just like those of Joe Paterno: what did he know and what did do?

If Davis is correct and Boeheim saw Bernie Fine and Davis together inappropriately and did nothing, then Boeheim has lost his job.

If Boeheim is right and knew nothing and saw nothing, than their will be no legal ramifications. He will face a huge hit with his integrity and may be asked to retire, but that is all pure speculation. 


Jim Boeheim has now been kept quiet and released the following statement

“The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling. I am personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged.  I believe the university took the appropriate step tonight. What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found. I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse.”

All that anyone can do right now is wait and watch.

These allegations and the investigation have shaken the Orange and placed a serious distraction in the way of a Syracuse team that looked ready to win one more national title under Boeheim.

Shakespeare might not have written this drama, but it surely looks as if it may end just as tragically.


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