Syracuse Basketball Scandal Makes Sandusky Case Look Good

basketball To call the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal a "good thing" sounds as warped as the charges against the former member of the Penn State football staff. And yet the news this week that Syracuse University has placed associate head basketball coach Bernie Fine on administrative leave in answer to sexual abuse claims from a former ball boy puts a whole new spin on the case. Colleges are getting it!

By putting Fine on leave right at the start of the NCAA basketball season, Syracuse has made an important statement about priorities in college sports. It's now time to suss out whether Bobby Davis, a 39-year-old who claims Fine molested him over a 10-year period that started when Davis was just a middle schooler back in the early '80s, is telling the truth or just looking to ride the Sandusky wave for his 15 minutes of fame.


Right now, there are a lot of questions out there. Davis' charges were investigated before by the university, which ruled they were unfounded. To be fair, it's a little too "fox in the henhouse" to take the word of a college essentially investigating itself. But there are other oddities here. Davis is a grown man, and instead of first reaching out to police to investigate what would be a crime, he went to the school itself back in 2005. Why? And why, when he didn't get the answer he wanted then, didn't he go directly to police? The fact that he waited another six years before finally going to the cops, timing it just after the Penn State story broke, is suspicious.

Regardless, however, the fact is there are allegations that Fine did something heinous. And the university has responded appropriately by removing him from his duties until they can determine the veracity of the charges. They have acted. That's what Penn State failed to do. Secondary to the outrage at the depravity of the charges against Sandusky has been the groundswell of anger at the actions -- or rather lack thereof -- of officials from recently fired Coach Joe Paterno on up to Penn State President Graham Spanier.

The immense amount of people involved with college athletics means that there will be sickos popping up now and again. It's pure statistics. We can't blame college sports for Sandusky's alleged actions. But we can blame college athletics programs for not responding promptly to allegations and not attempting to clean up their own programs when an issue becomes known.

Think of the Catholic church -- where the problems with pedophile priests became worse when the freaky friars were shifted around rather than being kicked out of the system. When you have a problem in your own house, it's your responsibility to address it, not sweep it under the rug.

The best way to root out this type of disturbing behavior at any school -- be it Syracuse or Penn State or some college in West PoDunk -- is to show that there's a zero tolerance policy for this kind of behavior, that coaches will not be protected by simply to keep the program going. This is how the Sandusky case -- with all its horrors -- can have a positive legacy on college sports.

What's your read on the Syracuse scandal?


Image via acidpix/Flickr

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