SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim said Tuesday that “what happened on my watch” will be revealed once police complete their inquiry into child molestation accusations against his former longtime assistant.
“I never worried about my job status in 36 years,” Boeheim said at his first postgame news conference since Bernie Fine was fired Sunday. “I do my job. What happened on my watch, we will see. When the investigation is done, we will find out what happened on my watch.”
Advocates for sex abuse victims said Boeheim should resign or be fired for adamantly defending Fine and verbally disparaging two former Syracuse ballboys who accused Fine of molesting them.
“Based on what I knew at that time, there were three investigations and nothing was corroborated,” Boeheim said. “That was the basis for me saying what I said. I said what I knew at the time.”
He said he didn’t regret backing Fine when the allegations were first made public.
“I’ve been with him for 36 years, known him for 48 years, went to school with him,” Boeheim said. “I think you owe a debt of allegiance and gratitude for what he did for the program. That’s what my reaction was. So be it.”
Boeheim received a standing ovation when he walked onto the court that bears his name for the game against Eastern Michigan, beaten by the Orange 84-48.
Fine’s seat on the bench wasn’t vacant this time, though it was at the last home game 10 days ago.
Asked to comment on Boeheim’s status earlier Tuesday, Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor said: “Coach Boeheim is our coach. … We’re very pleased with what he said Sunday night, and we stand by it.”
After initially saying Fine’s first two accusers were lying to make money in the wake of the Penn State University child sex abuse scandal, Boeheim backed off those comments.
“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,” he said Sunday night.
“I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse.”