The canvas that is my computer screen remained empty after multiple phone calls. I titled my story file earlier today, “Syracuse Reaction.” I had the grand idea of writing an editorial/comment piece in which I asked local residents with Syracuse University ties to step away from the watercooler talk, and express their thoughts on the recent firing of Bernie Fine.
If you’ve had your head in the sand the past few days, three people have come forward and alleged that Fine – an assistant men’s basketball coach at SU for 3 1/2 decades – sexually molested them. Every person I spoke to on Monday declined to comment.
One prominent local citizen quickly answered no when asked if he wanted to speak about the Fine incident on the record. When I asked if he could provide any names of Syracuse graduates, he said he would get back to me.
Another prominent local businessmen said he “didn’t want to touch that,” when asked to comment about Fine. Knowing I would not divulge his name, this businessman did say the entire situation was “disappointing,” and an “embarrassment.”
Thanks to the media spotlight, police in Onondaga County are now giving the allegations levied against Fine their full attention. When Bobby Davis, one of Fine’s accusers, initially brought his accusations to the legal system – and Syracuse University – he was dismissed by SU, who said they found no one to corroborate Davis’ story. The Syracuse-area police also have no record of Davis reporting a crime.
Now, with evidence mounting and the court of public opinion demanding action, SU fired Fine this past weekend. Meanwhile, the investigation of Fine by Onondaga County police is plowing forward.
Let’s be clear: The probe into Fine’s alleged misdeeds is in the embryonic stage. Down in Pennsylvania, it was a three-year investigation process before former Penn State assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, was arrested. Do not expect anything different in this instance, either.
In reality, the atrocities brought to light at Penn State, in the scheme of things, were nothing more than a “flavor of the month.” It was only a matter of time before the next flavor of the month was revealed. To the shock over every Central New York sports fan, the next headline-grabber has a local flavor.
Follow Patrick Newell on Twitter @evesunpat