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Syracuse's Fine fired after more allegations

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Syracuse's Fine fired after more allegations

From Comcast SportsNet

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)Thirty-six years after he was hired as an assistant basketball coach at Syracuse University, Bernie Fine is out of a job amid an investigation into child molestation allegations against him.

Fine was fired Sunday night after a third man accused him of molesting him nine years ago.

At the direction of Chancellor Cantor, Bernie Fines employment with Syracuse University has been terminated, effective immediately, Kevin Quinn, the schools senior vice president for public affairs, said in a statement.

Fine, who turns 66 in December, held the longest active streak of consecutive seasons at one school among assistant coaches in Division I. He has denied the allegations.

Zach Tomaselli, 23, of Lewiston, Maine, said Sunday that he told police that Fine molested him in 2002 in a Pittsburgh hotel room. The third accuser to come forward, Tomaselli said Fine touched him multiple times in that one incident.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said he supported the universitys decision to fire his longtime assistant and expressed regret for his initial statements that might have been insensitive to victims of abuse.

The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling, Boeheim said in a statement released by the school. 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.

Tomaselli, who faces sexual assault charges in Maine involving a 14-year-old boy, said during a telephone interview with The Associated Press that he signed an affidavit accusing Fine following a meeting with Syracuse police last week in Albany.

Tomasellis father, meanwhile, maintains his son is lying.

Two former Syracuse ball boys were the first to accuse Fine, who has called the allegations patently false.

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 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 began molesting him while he was in fifth or sixth grade.

When the accusations first became public Nov. 17, Boeheim adamantly defended his lifelong friend.

In an interview that day with the Post-Standard, Boeheim attacked Davis reasons for going public with his accusations.

The Penn State thing came out, and the kid behind this is trying to get money, Boeheim said. Hes tried before. And now hes trying again. If he gets this, hes going to sue the university and Bernie. What do you think is going to happen at Penn State? You know how much money is going to be involved in civil suits? Id say about 50 million. Thats what this is about. Money.

No one answered the door at the Fine home Sunday. Before Fines firing, his attorneys released a statement saying Fine would not comment beyond his initial statement.

Any comment from him would only invite and perpetuate ancient and suspect claims, attorneys Donald Martin and Karl Sleight said. Mr. Fine remains hopeful of a credible and expeditious review of the relevant issues by law enforcement authorities.

Tomaselli said the scandal at Penn State involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky prompted him to come forward. Sandusky is accused in a grand jury indictment of sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year period.

Amid the child sex-abuse scandal, Penn States trustees ousted longtime football coach Joe Paterno and university President Graham Spanier. The trustees said Spanier and Paterno, who is not the target of any criminal investigation, failed to act after a graduate assistant claimed he saw Sandusky sexually abusing a young boy in a campus shower in 2002. Former school administrators Tim Curleywho is on administrative leaveand Gary Schultz are charged with not properly alerting authorities to suspected abuse and with perjury. They maintain their innocence.

It was the Sandusky stuff that came out that really made me think about it, Tomaselli said in the phone interview. A lot of people were slamming ESPN and Bobby for saying anything. I wanted to come out. It made me sick to see all that support for Fine at that point. I was positive he was guilty.

Tomaselli told the Post-Standard that he didnt ask Syracuse police or federal authorities for help in getting the criminal charges dismissed against him in Maine.

Tomaselli was arrested in April on 11 warrants charging gross sexual assault, tampering with a victim, two counts of unlawful sexual contact, five counts of visual sexual aggression against a child and unlawful sexual touching and unlawful sexual contact, Lewiston police said Sunday. They did not say what led to the charges. He has pleaded not guilty.

Tomaselli told the Post-Standard he met Fine after he and his father, Fred, attended a Syracuse autograph session on campus in late 2001.

The newspaper reported that Fine later called Tomasellis parents to arrange for Tomaselli to go to Pittsburgh with the athletic department staff on a chartered bus, spend the night in Fines hotel room and attend the teams game on Jan. 22, 2002.

Tomaselli told the Post-Standard that he had dinner with the team, then returned to the hotel room where he accused Fine of putting porn on the TV and fondling him in bed.

Tomaselli attended the basketball game the next day, sitting several rows behind the bench, and rode the chartered bus back to Syracuse, the newspaper reported.

The one time there was multiple incidents in that one night, but there was only one night that he ever sexually abused me, Tomaselli told the AP.

However, during a phone interview with the AP, Fred Tomaselli said: Im 100 percent sure that Bernie Fine was never in contact with Zach. He never went to Pittsburgh to a game, never been to that arena.

I brought him to a couple of games in Syracuse. We always sat in the nosebleed section and left after the game. He never stayed for any overnighters and never even got within shouting distance of Bernie.

During his long career with Syracuse, Fine tutored the likes of Derrick Coleman, LeRon Ellis and John Wallace in his role of working with post players. Coleman was the top pick in the 1990 NBA draft, Ellis was the Clippers 22nd overall choice in 1991, and Wallace was picked 18th in 1996 by the New York Knicks.

Boeheim and Fine met at Syracuse University in 1963, when Fine was student manager of the basketball team. Fine graduated in 1967 with a degree in personal and industrial relations and went into business for himself.

In 1970, Fine was named basketball and football coach at Lincoln Junior High in Syracuse and went to Henninger High School the next year as the junior varsity basketball coach. He became varsity basketball coach in 1975. When Boeheim was chosen to succeed Roy Danforth at Syracuse in 1976 Boeheim offered Fine a job as an assistant.

Fine was an integral part of the staff that guided Syracuse to the national championship in 2003. During his tenure the Orange also made two other appearances in the NCAA title game, losing in 1987 to Indiana and in 1996 to Kentucky. He also guided the U.S. Maccabiah team to a silver medal at the 1993 World Maccabiah Games in Israel and has served as director of a successful basketball camp in the Northeast.

The Post-Standard also reported that Zach Tomaselli was invited by Fine to a party at his home after the Syracuse-Pitt game on Feb. 1, 2003a game where Zach Tomaselli said Fine arranged seats for him and his father several rows behind the bench.

Tomaselli told the newspaper his father, who was unable to attend the party, allowed him to go to Fines house and stay the night.

While there, Tomaselli told the AP, Fine asked him to get into bed and that Fines wife, Laurie, was there when it happened.

I told them (police) that Laurie was standing right there when Bernie asked me to sleep in a bed. Laurie knew all about it, he said during the phone interview.

On Sunday, ESPN played an audiotape, obtained and recorded by Davis, of an October 2002 telephone conversation between him and Laurie Fine.

Davis told ESPN he made the recording, which also has been given to Syracuse police, without her knowledge because he knew he needed proof for the police to believe his accusations. ESPN said it hired a voice recognition expert to verify the voice on the tape and the network said it was determined to be that of Laurie Fine.

Davis also acknowledged in an interview with ESPN that he and Laurie Fine had a sexual relationship when he was 18, and that he eventually told Bernie Fine about it.

I thought he was going to kill me, but I had to tell him, Davis said. It didnt faze him one bit.

During the call to the woman, Davis repeatedly asks her what she knew about the alleged molestation.

Do you think Im the only one that hes ever done that to? Davis asked.

No I think there might have been others but it was geared to there was something about you, the woman on the tape said.

On the tape, she also says she knew everything that went on.

Bernie has issues, maybe that hes not aware of, but he has issues. And you trusted somebody you shouldnt have trusted

During the call, Davis tells her he asked her husband in the late 1990s for 5,000 to help pay off his student loans.

When he gave you the money, what does he want for that? she asked.

He tells her that Fine wanted to engage in sexual activity in several ways.

And Id try to go away, and hed put his arm on top of my chest. He goes, If you want this money, youll stay right here, Davis said.

Right. Right, she said. He just has a nasty attitude, because he didnt get his money, nor did he get what he wanted.

In an email to the Syracuse University community, Cantor said that taped phone call was not given to the school by Davis during its 2005 investigation.

On Friday, federal authorities carried out a search at his Fines suburban Syracuse home but declined to comment on what they were looking for.

New York State Police spokesman Jack Keller said troopers were called to assist the U.S. attorneys office at the search. At least six police vehicles were parked on the street during the search, which lasted around nine hours. Officers carted away three file cabinets and a computer for further examination.

43 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

43 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Shepard

Head coach: John Rone

Assistant coaches: Vincent Holmes, Andy Schindel, Chris Lewis, Justin Harris and Mark Thomas

How they fared in 2018: 8-3 (5-1 South Suburban Red Conference). Shepard made the Class 6A IHSA state football playoff field, defeated Springfield and then lost to Normal West in second round action.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Leyden
Sept. 6 vs St Francis
Sept. 13 @ Reavis
Sept. 20 @ Evergreen Park
Sept. 27 @ Eisenhower
Oct. 4 vs Oak Lawn
Oct. 11 @ Lemont
Oct. 18 vs Richards
Oct. 25 vs Argo

Biggest storyline: Coach Rone’s first season was a success. Can the Astros make another state playoff run in 2019?

Names to watch this season: LB Matthew Hightower (Sr.), WR/DB Jalen Smith (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Astros welcome back six returning starters back on defense, but they will feature nearly an entire starting offense with very limited experience.

EDGY's Early Take: Head coach John Rone was able to get the Astros into the  playoffs in his first season in charge of the Shepard program. It was also the fourth straight playoff appearance for the school. The Astros always have plenty on hand in the skills department. But the defense may need to carry a talented —but younger— offense. If the pieces can gel, they can challenge for another IHSA state playoff appearance.

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

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AP

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

With the MLB trade deadline two weeks away, bullpen help figures to be on the Cubs' wish list.

But thanks in part to Kyle Ryan's emergence, the Cubs don't absolutely need that reliever to be left-handed (though it would probably be ideal).

The Cubs began the week with three southpaws in their bullpen, but at some point this weekend, Ryan may be the lone lefty remaining. Mike Montgomery was traded to the Royals late Monday night and with Carl Edwards Jr. progressing in his rehab (he threw again Tuesday), he might take Randy Rosario's spot in a couple days. 

The Cubs like Edwards against lefties and they also feel confident in Pedro Strop against either handed hitter when he's on. But Ryan has worked his way into Joe Maddon's Circle of Trust and is currently the only lefty residing there.

That's not to say the Cubs don't need another reliable southpaw in the 'pen, but Ryan looks like he's going to get some big outs for this team down the stretch.

"He's done a great job for us since he's been here," Jon Lester said of Ryan last month. "I don't think he gets enough credit for what he's been able to do."

Ryan impressed the Cubs with his work as a multi-inning reliever in Triple-A last season and turned heads again in camp this spring. Still, Rosario made the Opening Day roster over him, though Ryan got called up on the team's season-opening road trip and made his first appearance on April 6.

Since then, he's been a mainstay while Montgomery battled injury and ineffectiveness, Rosario and Tim Collins have bounced between Triple-A Iowa and Chicago and veteran Xavier Cedeno's time off the injured list was short-lived.

Ryan looked to be finding his way throughout his first month in the bullpen, but after his infamous "freeze" moment against the Marlins, he endured some struggles (7 runs allowed on 12 hits in 7 innings from May 8 through June 1).

He's righted the ship since then, permitting only 1 run over his last 17 appearances (14 innings) and lowering his season ERA to 3.21 to go along with a 1.31 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 33.2 innings.

A big part of that recent success can be tied to Ryan's increased improvement against left-handed hitters. 

Lefties hit .344 with a .405 on-base percentage off Ryan through June 5. But since then, Ryan has surrendered only 3 hits — all singles — and zero walks to the 19 left-handed hitters he's faced (.158 AVG).

He credits part of that turnaround to working on a changeup, which he thinks has helped lock in the "feel" of all his other pitches as well as his mechanics. 

As he works to add a new pitch to his repertoire, Ryan has leaned on Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy for assistance, while also picking the brains of veterans like Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks and Brad Brach who have all thrown changeups for quite a while.

But even with all that work, he still hasn't resorted to using the changeup much in games. The pitch is so foreign that it's still being picked up as a sinker, including on the Wrigley Field video board Sunday when he threw one in his inning of work.

"Eventually, I'm gonna find the changeup and it's gonna be a comfortable, confident pitch," Ryan said. "But I do think it's gotten me behind all the rest of my pitches and it's maybe a little bit better feel for everything. It's gonna stay where it is for a while. I'm gonna keep trying."

Ryan said one of the things he likes about the changeup is that it can eventually be a nice weapon because it "goes in the opposite direction" of all his other pitches.

We'll see if the new pitch can ever become a factor for the 27-year-old. But if it's helped lock in his other pitches, that's great news for the Cubs, especially as they look to fortify their bullpen this month.