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Should Jim Boeheim Be Fired
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Should Jim Boeheim Be Fired

Unfortunately we must ask if one of college sport’s best known coaches should lose his job over a child abuse scandal involving one of his assistants. No, this is not another story about Joe Paterno (although it eerie how similar the two cases are) I’m talking about Syracuse University’s head basketball coach Jim Boeheim. His long-time assistant coach, Bernie Fine has been fired from the University and Boeheim’s position on this matter has shifted 180 degrees since this story broke 11 days.

Upon first hearing about the accusations levied against Fine, Boeheim stated he thought the two accusers were looking for money. The two accusers were former Syracuse ball boys and had either lived with Fine or spent a lot of time at his home during their youth. Now, on the heels of an incredibly salacious report on ESPN’s ‘Outside the Lines’ that included a taped phone conversation between Fine’s wife and one of the accusers (made years ago) in which Fine’s wife admitted that her husband had problems, had done wrong things to the boy and that the boy made a mistake trusting Fine. Since this information came out, Bernie Fine has seen his support within Syracuse disappear along with his job.

Sunday night, after the tape with Fine’s wife became public, Syracuse fired Fine and Boeheim’s subsequent statement clearly showed that he has moved far away from his original stance. He supported the university firing Fine and expressed shock over the recent allegations. Additionally, Boeheim admitted to being disturbed by the news and apologized for doubting the victims.

There is a very important difference between the Syracuse and Penn State cases, at least based on the information we know. Unlike in Penn State, this appears to be the first time these allegations have surfaced beyond one individual going to the local newspaper and ESPN. Both news organizations failed to see enough credence in the allegations to go public with them and there is not any evidence that Boeheim was aware of the allegations. At Penn State it is clearly evident that there was knowledge of Sandusky’s actions within the institution long before his arrest. As of now, Boeheim’s actions have been consistent with someone who was blind-sided by an accusation against a co-worker. So, if Boeheim was not aware of Fine’s crimes, he should not be punished. But, if anything does come-to-light indicating Boeheim tried to sweep Fine’s actions under the rug, then he needs to go just like Paterno needed to go. So, that answers should Boeheim be fired.

But, will Boeheim be suspended because he showed such callousness to the victims when the allegations first surfaced, my thinking is yes. Syracuse is facing pressure from victim’s groups to suspend Boeheim because when he first heard of the victim’s accusations he attributed it to a money-grab. There is merit to this stance. Jim Boeheim is a legend in up-state New York. Syracuse basketball is the biggest local sports team for people living between Albany and Buffalo. Boeheim is a legend in that area and for him to attack the victims upon first hearing of the situation was not a smart move. Victims of child abuse often do not come forward because of their fears and someone with Boeheim’s prestige to immediately dismiss the allegations could be a deterrent to future victims coming forward. If the University chooses to suspend Boeheim for this reason I can see merit in it, I do not think it’s something that has to be done, but could be a justifiable reaction. If Jim Boeheim is suspended lets all hope that his suspension eventually leads to creating a more sympathetic environment for the victims of this heinous crime to come forward.


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