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Cleaning up a Fine mess

Saga of ex-SU assistant a cautionary tale in many ways

This news dropped on a Friday morning, and given the attention elsewhere (see Petraeus, David), it didn’t go beyond the sports sections nationwide.

A year of investigation, more than 130 interviews and 100,000 documents later, the FBI decided that no charges could be brought against Bernie Fine - the same conclusion that was drawn by Syracuse University, Syracuse police and the Onondaga County DA’s office when charges of sexual abuse against Fine were leveled in 2005.

Of course, the first time around, matters were done in a quiet, private matter, the details never leaking out. Not so much with the second time.

You all remember what it was like a year ago. Fine, Jim Boeheim’s long-time assistant on the SU basketball bench, saw his life, reputation and career forever ruined by….a couple of old accusations and a tape of a conversation between one of the accuser’s and Fine’s wife, Laurie.

Note something here? No indictments, no trial, no convictions, no appeals, just a few claims of abuse and, voila, Fine was done for, branded forever.

Those few brave souls who possibly suggested that the facts did not add up, or even dared to question the accuser’s motives, were equally tarred and feathered. Boeheim nearly lost his job. A season that saw SU go to no. 1 in the national rankings carried a deep, long shadow.

The hysteria was understandable, but with Fine officially cleared (again), it’s time to call out the vast amount of irresponsibility that this case exposed.

All of this took place for one simple reason. ESPN had completely missed the boat, dropped the ball, pick your analogy, in the matter of Jerry Sandusky. The Worldwide Leader forgot about the long, deliberate, careful manner in which Pennsylvania’s Attorney General’s office gathered up the list of charges and victims before it made anything public.

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