Bulls

Fine on leave after molestation allegations

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Fine on leave after molestation allegations

From Comcast SportsNet

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)Longtime Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine was placed on administrative leave Thursday after old child molesting allegations resurfaced, just two weeks after a child sex abuse scandal rocked Penn State.

ESPN reported the accusations were made by two former ball boys.

Syracuse Chancellor Nancy Cantor said in a statement Friday morning that the school will not turn a blind eye to the allegations.

We hold everyone in our community to high standards and we dont tolerate illegal, abusive or unethical behaviorno matter who you are, Cantor said in an email Friday morning to students, faculty and staff.

Bobby Davis, now 39, told ESPN that Fine allegedly 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 the alleged abuse occurred at Fines home, at Syracuse basketball facilities and on team road trips, including the 1987 Final Four.

Davis stepbrother, Mike Lang, 45, who also was a ball boy, told ESPN that Fine molested him starting while he was in fifth or sixth grade.

Syracuse police spokesman Tom Connellan said the investigation is in its early stages. He said police were given information on Thursday but declining to identify who provided it.

Fine is in his 35th season as a Syracuse assistant.

He has vehemently denied the allegations and should be accorded a fair opportunity to defend himself against these accusations, Cantor said in the email.

Orange coach Jim Boeheim released a statement saying: This matter was fully investigated by the university in 2005 and it was determined that the allegations were unfounded.

I have known Bernie Fine for more than 40 years. I have never seen or witnessed anything to suggest that he would (have) been involved in any of the activities alleged. Had I seen or suspected anything, I would have taken action. Bernie has my full support.

ESPN said it first investigated the accusations in 2003, but decided not to run the story because there was no independent evidence to corroborate the allegations. Recently, a second man contacted ESPN, alleging that Fine also molested him. That person said he decided to come forward after seeing the Penn State coverage.

The Post-Standard said it, too, held off in 2003 for the same reason.

A statement by Kevin Quinn, the schools senior vice president for public affairs, said Syracuse was contacted in 2005 by an adult male who told us that he had reported to the Syracuse City Police that he had been subjected to inappropriate contact by an associate mens basketball coach.

Quinn said the alleged activity took place in the 1980s and 1990s.

We were informed by the complainant that the Syracuse City Police had declined to pursue the matter because the statute of limitations had expired, Quinn said.

Quinn said the school conducted its own four-month investigation at that time, including interviews with people the accuser said would support his allegations, but that all of them denied any knowledge of wrongful conduct and that the coach also denied the allegations.

Davis said he felt bitter emotions after sex scandals emerged in the Catholic Church and, lately, with the allegations and charges against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky.

In the Penn State case, Sandusky is accused of sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years. The case cost Joe Paterno his job, and former school administrators Tim Curley and Gary Schultz are charged with not properly alerting authorities to suspected abuse and perjury.

Davis told ESPN that Boeheim knew he was traveling on the road and sleeping in Fines room.

Boeheim saw me with Bernie all the time in the hotel rooms, on road trips, Davis said. Hed come in, and see me laying in the bed, kind of glance at me like, What are you doing here? But he wouldnt say that. Hed just scowl. And I would look at him like, Id be nervous. I felt embarrassed cause I felt stupid that Im there. Im not supposed to be here. I know it, and Boeheims not stupid.

In a telephone interview Thursday night with the AP, Boeheim said: This kid came forward and there was no one to corroborate his story. Not one. Not one. They said I walked into Bernies room on the road and saw this. I have never walked into Bernies room on the road. This isnt true. This just isnt true.

Former Syracuse center Rony Seikaly, who worked closely with Fine throughout his college career and exchanged text messages with him just Wednesday, told the AP he refuses to believe the allegations.

Bernie would never do such a thing, Seikaly said in a telephone interview in Miami. I vouch for Bernie. There is no way something like this could ever happen in my eyes. No way.

Seikaly said he questions why the ball boy would come forward again now, adding that he believes the headlines generated by the scandal at Penn State may have been a motivating factor.

Completely ridiculous, Seikaly said. Do people want a quick buck or something? I spent four years with Bernie, every single day. I know what kind of guy he is. Hes just a very helpful guy. He was the glue to Syracuse basketball. Hes still the glue 20 years later when youre already gone. He keeps in touch with every single player. Hes that kind of guy.

NBA Mock Draft 3.0: Workout season could be more important than ever

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USA TODAY

NBA Mock Draft 3.0: Workout season could be more important than ever

With Zion Williamson making his NBA regular season debut Wednesday night, we finally got a chance to see what a No. 1 overall draft pick is supposed to look like: an athletic and versatile skill set, with the chance to impact a franchise for years to come. 

2019 No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant also looks like a franchise-changing talent with his speed and playmaking ability, lifting Memphis into playoff contention.

So, which players will have that kind of impact in the 2020 draft?

Well, for now it’s almost impossible to say. James Wiseman, the 7-foot-1 Memphis center, dropped out of school after playing just three games because of an eligibility battle with the NCAA. His size and raw tools are intriguing, but at this point his offensive game is extremely limited.

Meanwhile, Lonzo Ball’s younger brother, LaMelo is sitting out the rest of the Australian professional league season while he rehabs from a foot injury, another Australian professional, R.J. Hampton, just returned from a hip injury and North Carolina’s combo guard Cole Anthony is getting ready to return from a knee injury to finish his one and done season. 

That’s left NBA talent evaluators scrambling in trying to figure out the top of the draft, with only Georgia’s Anthony Edwards healthy and available among the players projected as the possible No. 1 overall pick. 

So, as we get closer to the end of January, here’s a look at how teams could view the available talent, with the understanding that the draft order will change dramatically as NBA scouts and GMs get a look at how players perform in the most important games of the season still to come.

2020 NBA mock draft 3.0

Will Nick Madrigal make Opening Day roster? White Sox say he has 'a few more things to prove'

Will Nick Madrigal make Opening Day roster? White Sox say he has 'a few more things to prove'

What’s the White Sox plan for second base in 2020?

Depends on when you ask.

“If we sat here today,” general manager Rick Hahn said during his pre-SoxFest press conference Thursday, “it would be some combination of Leury Garcia, Danny Mendick and Nick Madrigal.

“Ask me again on March 25.”

Presumably, Hahn and manager Rick Renteria will be asked many more times between now and then.

It doesn’t seem like a particularly difficult question to answer if we’re talking about the bulk of the 2020 campaign, as Madrigal — ranked as one of the best prospects in baseball — figures to be the guy at second base for a majority of the season. But with just 29 games played at Triple-A Charlotte last year, the White Sox might not be as ready for him to make the leap to the bigs as the fan base seems to be.

“He's got a few more things to prove,” Hahn said. “I think that when we go through trying to be as objective as possible thinking about where he is developmentally, he hasn't necessarily answered all the questions we have for him at the minor leagues.

“But we're going to go in with fresh eyes and a fresh approach in spring training and see where he's at and in all probability make an assessment there.

“I don't think we have him, by any means, written in pen as the Opening Day second baseman at this point, if that's what you mean. But could he change our minds? Yeah.”

Madrigal just might do that. After all, the bat-to-ball skills that continue to be described as “elite” are still there. He struck out just 16 times — 16 times! — in 532 trips to the plate between three levels of the minor leagues in 2019. He’s had his defense talked up as Gold Glove caliber since the White Sox selected him with the No. 4 pick in the 2018 draft. All the rave reviews are still there.

Considering the alternatives are two guys who seem to be ticketed for reserve status, at best, in Garcia and Mendick, it’s no shocking thing to suggest that Madrigal is probably the organization’s best second baseman. But during this rebuilding process, the White Sox have been consistently patient with their prospects, an approach that has maddened fans at times. But Yoan Moncada and Eloy Jimenez arrived at the big leagues eventually, and a big-money extension for Luis Robert has cleared his path to an Opening Day roster spot a year after he set the minor leagues on fire.

“We still want him to get more at-bats,” Renteria said of Madrigal on Thursday. “I want to see him out there defensively. He can catch the ball. We already know that he's a heady player. I think we want him to still have the at-bats this spring to see big league play, more big league pitchers.”

And so you can begin to envision an Opening Day lineup without Madrigal in it as he continues to polish off the final stage of his minor league development in Charlotte. That means Garcia, likely, as the Opening Day second baseman and the main option there until the White Sox deem Madrigal ready for the major league stage. Mendick will probably earn a roster spot, as well, and he might see more time than expected should Renteria opt to utilize Garcia’s versatility in the outfield on any sort of regular basis.

While there are plenty of guys out there on the free-agent market that might strike as better options than those two — and the White Sox might not be done making smaller additions before Opening Day — it might also not make the most sense to pay for someone who will be backing up Madrigal in a matter of weeks or a couple of months. Just something to consider.

Anyway, Madrigal’s really going to have to blow the doors off the Cactus League, it would seem, if he’s going to be starting alongside Robert & Co. in the March 26 opener against Kansas City. But until he and the White Sox get down to Arizona, the answer can’t be more certain than “maybe, but probably not.”

But, hey, feel free to ask Hahn again come March 25.

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