Unlike Penn State, Syracuse scandal just unfolding

By Michael Hill

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Dec. 4 2011 12:00 a.m. MST

"If Bernie Fine did do something, it's terrible," he said Saturday. "But you can't really prove anything until you see it in court, you see the evidence. Until that point, every university has little bits, you know, that they're not proud of. As a whole I think Syracuse as a university will overcome this."

As federal agents search Fine's home, his office and a locker at Syracuse, the public does not yet know the scope of the investigation. There's no deadline for prosecutors, meaning it could be weeks or even months before the inquiry is finished.

"I don't think it's quite on that (Penn State) level. I just think with all those allegations going on at the same time, that it's just getting blown up," said fan Clint Dunham as he filed into the dome for No. 4 Syracuse's 72-68 win Friday. "But I don't know. It might be. It might be another Penn State."

The third accuser, 23-year-old Zach Tomaselli of Lewiston, Maine emerged last week. He said he told police that Fine molested him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room after a game. Tomaselli's father said he thinks his son, who faces sexual abuse charges in Maine, is lying.

A stream of reporters who have knocked on the door of Fine's home across the street from Boeheim's on a well-appointed suburban lane have not gotten responses. But they do pass a small orange sign by his door reading "We Believe in Your Innocence Bernie, We Love You." A handwritten note on the sign says "We support you 100 percent, dad" signed by his children.

A number of former SU players and staffers who have worked with Fine say they're having a tough time believing the charges, too.

"You would think that being involved in the program, you know certain things that go on," said David Bartelstein, a walk-on who played from 1988-1990 and is now an associate at a capital investment firm in Highland Park, Ill. "You know certain things that the public doesn't know. And if something like this was happening, you would think that guys would talk, there would be little cracks, leaks in the foundation, so to speak, that would trickle down information. Never, ever, ever did I hear or see anything about this."

Bartelstein said he thinks the allegations against his old coach are false.

"Obviously, there's a lot more investigation that has to be done and hopefully the truth will eventually come out, and if I'm wrong, I'll be the first one to admit that I'm wrong," he told The Associated Press Friday.

Repeated attempts to contact Davis and Lang have been unsuccessful. Lang's home is still festooned with Syracuse basketball paraphernalia.

Although it's unclear when federal investigators will release information, SU students and fans said they are taking Boeheim at his word that he had no knowledge of what Fine is accused of doing.

"I thought that Syracuse University and Boeheim handled it well," said Dan Englean, a freshman. "I feel like it was out of their control, and they just did what they could to respond. I don't think there's any reason (Boeheim) should be fired."

It's possible a steady drip of more revelations could further damage the reputation of the school and its basketball program. For most of the fans who watched Syracuse improve to 8-0 on Friday night, they thought that possibility seemed unlikely, for now.

"Let's hope not," said Steve Zebrowski of nearby Oneida, "crossing my fingers."

Associated Press writers John Kekis and Meghan Barr in Syracuse and Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo contributed to this report.

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