Kevin Rivoli, Associated Press
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Playing for the first time since an assistant coach was accused of sex abuse, No. 5 Syracuse romped to a 92-47 win over Colgate in the NIT Season Tipoff on Saturday.
It was business as usual for the Orange (4-0) on the court, even as the program was trying to come to grips with molestation allegations against assistant coach Bernie Fine.
Syracuse played Fine on administrative leave "in light of the new allegations" that he molested two former ball boys for years. Fine has dismissed the allegations as "patently false," and expressed confidence he will be vindicated.
Fine's usual seat behind coach Jim Boeheim was left vacant. This is Fine's 35th season working for the head coach.
"We're not going to talk about that," Boeheim said when asked about Fine, whom he has strongly supported. "We've made all the statements we're going to make."
At the Carrier Dome, a subdued crowd came to watch hoops, not make protest signs or chant for the absent coach. While 21,084 fans dutifully dressed in orange, making the scene like any another Syracuse basketball game, troubling issues still loom large.
Both of Fine's accusers are now adults. Bobby Davis, now 39, told ESPN that Fine molested him beginning in 1984 and that the sexual contact continued until he was around 27. A ball boy for six years, Davis told ESPN that the abuse occurred at Fine's home, at Syracuse basketball facilities and on team road trips, including the 1987 Final Four, when the Orange lost to Indiana in the national championship game.
Davis' stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, who also was a ball boy, told ESPN that Fine molested him starting when he was in fifth or sixth grade.
Syracuse said it held its own four-month investigation in 2005 when the allegations first came to the school's attention, including interviews with people the accuser said would support his allegations, but all of them "denied any knowledge of wrongful conduct" by Fine.
There were no signs of Davis or Lang when AP reporters stopped by their houses on Saturday. At Lang's Constantia Cove Diner, a worker locked the door and yelled "Closed!" when reporters and a photographer approached the door, even as an "Open" sign sat in the window and customers ate at the counter.
Lang's house, which is on the market for $74,900, stood as a tribute to Syracuse hoops. Stickers were scattered over windows; basketballs, beer mugs, a clock, PEZ dispenser, and a plush mascot doll rested on the windowsill; a Gerry McNamara jersey also hung in the window. There was even a foam orange finger, signaling Syracuse is No. 1.
At Fine's house, three cars were parked in the driveway but no one answered the door.
Fine was listed as associate head coach in the game program and his photo and bio remained. Former Syracuse star Gerry McNamara filled in for him. He played on Syracuse's 2003 NCAA championship team and was a four-year starter for the Orange.
Fine missed Syracuse's 46th straight victory against Colgate, according to STATS LLC. The Raiders' last win over the Orange was a 67-63 triumph on Feb. 24, 1962, a few months before Boeheim enrolled as a student at Syracuse.
Dion Waiters scored 16 points, James Southerland had 14 and C.J. Fair 13 for the Orange.
Matt Moore led Colgate (1-2) with 19 points.
The Orange rolled to a 52-19 lead at the break, highlighted by Southerland's seven straight points in 17 seconds.
The allegations at Syracuse come on the heels of the child sex abuse allegations against former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, a scandal which cost Joe Paterno his job. While Sandusky's defenders have been scarce, if any, Fine has received an outpouring of support from the Syracuse basketball community.
Former Syracuse center Rony Seikaly was among a number of former Orange who staunchly defended Fine's character. In a telephone interview Thursday night with the AP, Boeheim backed Fine and said: "This kid came forward and there was no one to corroborate his story. Not one. Not one."
Boeheim enjoyed the blowout, smiling at times and walking over to the stands to shake hands with a man he knew during a break.
The Orange now move on to New York for the NIT semifinals — with their longtime assistant left behind.
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