Boeheim unconcerned about job security

Jim Boeheim, the iconic head coach of the Syracuse University men's basketball, is not worried about losing his job amid the investigation of former associate head coach Bernie Fine.

After former Syracuse University men’s basketball associate head coach Bernie Fine was fired Sunday in light of a third victim accusing him of sexual molestation, head coach Jim Boeheim seemed to be the next person who was likely to lose his job.

Despite the scandal, Boeheim remains unconcerned with his job security. After No. 3 Syracuse's (7-0, 5-0 home) 84-48 win against Eastern Michigan (4-3, 1-2 road) Tuesday night, Boeheim laughed at a question about whether or not he was nervous over his job.

“I’ve never worried about my job status in 36 years,” Boeheim said. “When I worry about that I may have to get a job with you guys [the media].”

After seeing Fine fired, many, including Robert Hoatson, believed Boeheim should be the next to go. Hoatson, who is the president and co-founder of Road to Recovery, a non-profit organization that supports victims of abuse, thinks Boeheim is ultimately responsible for Fine and his actions over the years. 

“I think Jim Boeheim should be fired or resign as well,” Hoatson said in a New York Daily News article Monday. “These boys were members of the basketball program. Jim Boeheim’s responsibility is to oversee that program, and the children were not safe on his watch.”

In Tuesday's postgame press conference, Boeheim noted there have never been any ball boys traveling with the team as ball boys except for his two sons. But he did say it was not unusual for friends to travel with the team during tournaments.

When asked whether Boeheim was concerned about what happened on his watch during the past 30 years, the coach noted that he wasn't because no one knows for sure what has happened. 

“When the investigation is done, we will find out what happened on my watch,” Boeheim said. “We don’t know what has happened on my watch right now. There is an investigation underway. There are no charges. No indictments. No grand jury. No action being taken. When that is done, then we will see what has happened on my watch.”

While some are calling for Boeheim’s head, others in the Syracuse University community have stood by their coach during the scandal thus far. Before Tuesday nights game in the Carrier Dome, Boeheim received a loud standing ovation from the crowd as soon as he stepped onto the court. 

Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor also gave Boeheim a vote of confidence this week, but did not comment on the coach’s long-term future with the team. 

"Coach Boeheim is our coach,” Cantor said Tuesday. "We're very pleased with what he said Sunday night, and we stand by it." 

Players have also stood by their coach during the scandal, including senior captain Kris Joseph.

“Coach Boeheim is a great coach and a great person and I’m going to stick by him,” Joseph said after the EMU game Tuesday. “I haven’t heard anything, and if I did I would definitely stick up for him because I know that he would do that for us.”

With the information that is out right now, many students at Syracuse believe that Boeheim deserves to retain his coaching job, including sophomore Televison, Radio, and Film and iSchool dual major Brad Slavin. 

“I think that the allegations and the information that we have up to this point is not enough to threaten Boeheim’s job,” Slavin said. “If it becomes fact that Boeheim did know about these alleged actions and was complicit in some sort of cover-up, then I believe his job is serious jeopardy. But until that point I don’t believe he’s done anything to merit being fired.”

Former SU basketball manager and sophomore Broadcast and Digital Journalism major Josh Karnett also believes that Boeheim should keep his job.

“I hope they let Boeheim finish the right way and celebrate his illustrious career,” Karnett said.

When ESPN's Outside the Lines first broke the news of allegations on Nov. 17 regarding Fine’s alleged molestation of former SU ball boys Bobby Davis and Mike Lang in the 1980s and 1990s, Boeheim vehemently defended his long-time friend and colleague of over 45 years. He also said Davis, now 39, was lying with his accusations against Fine.

“It is a bunch of a thousand lies that he has told,” Boeheim told ESPN on Nov. 17. “He supplied four names to the university [back in 2005] that would corroborate his story. None of them did...there is only one side to this story. He is lying.”

Boeheim went on to claim Davis and his stepbrother Lang were only out for money.

“What are people looking for here? I believe they are looking for money,” Boeheim told ESPN. “I believe they saw what happened at Penn State, and they are using ESPN to get money. That is what I believe." 

Fine, who was placed on administrative leave by SU Director of Athletics Dr. Daryl Gross on Nov. 19 immediately following the ESPN story, had been Boeheim’s right-hand man for 36 years, and had known Boeheim for almost half a century. Fine was fired on Nov. 27 when a taped phone call between Davis and Fine’s wife Laurie was released by ESPN. In the tape, Laurie noted her husband has issues, but he may not be aware of them. A third victim, Zach Tomaselli of Lewiston, M.E., also came forward Sunday. Tomaselli accused Fine of sexually abusing him in a Pittsburgh hotel room in 2002.  

After these new developments unfolded, Boeheim released a new statement on Sunday regarding the firing of Fine, in which he regrets his earlier statements following the initial accusations.  

“The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling,” Boeheim said Sunday. “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."

While all eyes have been on Boeheim this week, the coach declared that this isn’t about him.

“This is not Jim Boeheim, this is Syracuse University basketball,” Boeheim said Tuesday. “It is not about me. It has never been about me.” 

Envisioning a world without Boeheim coaching the Orange in the near future is something many Syracuse fans or college basketball fans don't want to see happen. But Boeheim assures SU basketball would carry on without him.

“If I was gone today, this program would be fine,” Boeheim said. “This program would do great. Ten years from now, this program will do great.”

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