If there was any doubt that the scandal at Syracuse University was the college basketball equivalent of the one in football at Penn State University, it disappeared completely this past week. We already knew that longtime Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine was, like former Penn State defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, accused of the most horrific type of child abuse. But this past weekend, new tapes were released by one of Fine’s accusers showing conversations between him and Fine’s wife that add a great deal of evidence to back up the claims. And just the other night, Fine was officially fired by SU.
So now that the evidence against Fine is increasing and as at least one new apparent victim emerges, Syracuse is being engulfed by the same type of scandal that’s dominated State College, Pa. for almost a month. Once again, new victims are emerging and once again a dominant sports program led by a Hall of Fame coach must acknowledge that some horrible things may have happened for far too long.
Except this time it’s not happening off in Pennsylvania. It’s happening in our very own backyard, at a college that like IC is well known for its communications school and it will play out on some of our very own local TV stations and in our local newspapers.
Some of us have friends who go to Syracuse or siblings or relatives. Some of us have gone to the Syracuse men’s basketball games Fine coached in, both before and during our time at Ithaca. Some of us are from the Syracuse area and grew up rooting for the Orange. Some of us had parents who went there, many of us have had professors who went there or once taught there. I actually applied to Syracuse myself two years ago, having visited it the day before I visited IC and I was actually wait-listed there.
For these reasons and many more, I hope that it turns out that what transpired at Syracuse didn’t reach the lows that were reached at Penn State in covering up Sandusky’s actions. But as Fine’s dismissal Sunday shows, that’s increasingly unlikely. It could be an awfully long winter here in Central New York.