Why Jim Boeheim is different from Joe Paterno

November 29, 2011

As a Syracuse alumnus, I cannot be entirely impartial on the subject of the Bernie Fine sex abuse scandal. Nevertheless, I don’t think it’s reasonable to seriously question whether or not Jim Boeheim should be fired as head coach of the Syracuse basketball team. Were it not for the firing of Joe Paterno I don’t think even the pseudo-journalists at ESPN would be able to legitimately ask that issue.

Let’s paint the two scenarios in dramatic settings that portray the two coaches in the most favorable light. First Joe Paterno…

(2002)
Mike McQueary: Coach, do you have a minute?
Joe Paterno: Sure, Mike, come on in.
MM: Thanks. So I’m not real comfortable talking to you about this…
JP: Don’t worry about it. Have a seat. Take your time.
MM: Well, it’s about Coach Sandusky.
JP: Oh jeez, that guy. Look, he doesn’t even work at Penn State anymore.
MM: I know, but he was in the locker room yesterday…
JP: Yeah, he has campus privileges, but he is not part of our program.
MM: Right. Except I saw him–
JP: We got rid of him in ’99, but we thought things would go smoother if we let him pretend like he still had some sort of standing here. He still has his charity work, but really that’s pretty meaningless if he doesn’t have the clout of our program to hang his hat on.
MM: I know, but that’s what I wanted to talk to you about. I saw him with a young boy…
JP: Oh jeez, not that again.
MM: This has come up before?
JP: I don’t know, it’s just…we heard about some things in ’99, that’s why we got rid of him. It’s better that we don’t have him around here, bringing our program down.
MM: Except he was here. And he wasn’t just hurting our reputation, he was doing things…
JP: Hold on there, Mike. I think we all know that Jerry Sandusky is not well. And he’s not somebody we want to be associated with Penn State football.
MM: But he was with a young boy.
JP: I know, it’s disgusting, right? I don’t like it anymore than you do.
MM: And we let him do it?
JP: No, we don’t let him do it. We just let him keep an office on campus.
MM: And that let’s him bring young boys into our locker rooms?
JP: Of course not. I’ll talk to Curley about it. He wanted to be AD, so he’ll have to deal with Sandusky’s baggage. You know Curley started out as a grad assistant, too, you know…

(2011)
Joe Paterno: Mike McQueary didn’t tell me about anything serious. But I went ahead and told my boss anyway. So don’t waste your time worrying about my responsibility to the community, I’ll decide to retire when I feel like it.

And now for Jim Boeheim…

(2005)
Syracuse Official: Coach, do you have a minute?
Jim Boeheim: Sure, Mike, come on in.
SO: Sorry to bother you, I just thought there was something you should know about.
JB: No problem. What’s going on?
SO: Well, there’s been an investigation into the behavior of your assistant, Bernie Fine.
JB: Investigation? About what?
SO: Well, one of your former ball boys made some accusations about him. I don’t know if you remember Bobby Davis…
JB: Doesn’t sound familiar.
SO: Apparently he used to stay at Bernie’s house and travel with the team.
JB: Oh, I think Bernie mentioned him. He said he gave the kid a few thousand dollars to help him out.
SO: Right. Well, Davis is accusing Bernie of molesting him for seventeen years.
JB: Seventeen years? How young was he?
SO: It started when Davis was 11 or 12 and continued until he was 27.
JB: Twenty-seven? That sounds strange. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a child being molested until he was 27.
SO: I know. In any case, we’ve done an investigation, and couldn’t find any evidence that supported his story.
JB: No evidence at all? Seventeen years of sexual contact and there’s no evidence?
SO: Apparently not. And Bernie says nothing ever happened.
JB: Well, of course not. I mean Bernie’s a little different, but I’ve never seen anything to suggest that he’s a pedophile. And I’ve known him for 40 years. He lives across the street from me, for Christ’s sake.
SO: I know. Nevertheless, we looked into it and thought you should know.
JB: Well, I appreciate the information. But as long as he’s done nothing wrong, I don’t see why we need to be gossiping about Bernie’s private life. If he’s gay, that’s his own business. He does have a wife, you know.
SO: I know. Thank you for your time, Coach.

(2011)
Jim Boeheim: I’m aware of the past accusations about Bernie Fine, but they were investigated and were found to be baseless. I have no reason to suspect Bernie of anything illegal and I find it very highly suspicious that these accusations would resurface a week after the controversy at Penn Sate became national news. Bernie has been a loyal friend and I won’t stand idly by as he becomes swept up in a witch hunt orchestrated by a man who has no evidence and has admitted to asking Bernie for money in the past.

(a week later)
Jim Boeheim: It looks like I was wrong. I never saw anything suspicious and was presented with no evidence, so I had no reason to suspect my friend and colleague was doing anything criminal. I’m devastated to learn that I was so horribly mistaken and hope I haven’t done anything to hurt anybody.

So what exactly did Jim Boeheim do that deserves being fired over?

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