JOHN KEKIS,AP Sports Writer
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — After No. 4 Syracuse remained unbeaten with an 84-48 win over Eastern Michigan on Tuesday night, Jim Boeheim didn’t bother with questions about the game.
Instead Boeheim addressed the firing of longtime assistant Bernie Fine, who has been accused by three men of molesting them. Fine has denied the allegations.
“It’s hard to put everything into words,” Boeheim said. “I thought a lot today about different things. I’m saddened in many ways by what’s unfolded, and I’m looking forward to a time when we can talk and learn from what has happened.
“There is an important investigation going on, which I fully support, and I can’t add anything to that by speaking more about that now,” he said. “The investigation and all that we can learn from it is what is important.”
Boeheim was greeted by a standing ovation when he walked onto the Carrier Dome court that bears his name. First-year Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy, an assistant for seven years under Boeheim, greeted the Hall of Famer with a warm hug, and Boeheim received another raucous cheer when he was introduced after the players.
Then, it was back to basketball after a tumultuous weekend of new revelations in the investigation of child molestation allegations against Fine.
Syracuse took charge with an 18-3 run spanning halftime. James Southerland scored seven of the points, hitting a fallaway jumper on the baseline, a 3-pointer from the left wing, and converting a resounding slam dunk off a pretty lob pass from Scoop Jardine to give the Orange a 32-24 halftime lead.
Jardine started the second half with a jumper from the right wing, then fed Fab Melo with a no-look pass for another dunk. Kris Joseph and Brandon Triche followed with 3-pointers to boost the lead to 42-26 and the Eagles (4-3) were grounded.
Southerland matched his career high with 19 points, Triche had 12 and Joseph 11 for Syracuse.
Darrell Lampley led Eastern Michigan (4-2) with 19 points.
Some sex abuse victims’ advocates have said Boeheim should resign or be fired after three men, including two former Syracuse ballboys, accused Fine of molesting them and Boeheim verbally disparaged the accusers.
After initially saying Fine’s first two accusers were lying to make money in the wake of the Penn State University sexual abuse scandal, Boeheim backed off those comments in a statement Sunday.
“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,” Boeheim said. “I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse.”
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.”
Boeheim said he’s never worried about his job throughout his tenure at his alma mater and has not considered resigning.
“I’ve never worried about my job status in 36 years,” he said. “Many years I didn’t have a contract. I don’t worry. 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. We don’t know what’s happened on my watch right now. There are no charges. There are no indictments. There is no grand jury. There is no action being taken. When that is done, then we will see what has happened on my watch.”
The players simply did what they do best, running away to another easy win.
“Not hard for us,” Joseph said. “We’re just playing. We go through our daily routines and going to class, practice and games. It’s what we’ve been doing. It’s nothing new to us. There’s no distractions at all. We’re just here to play basketball. We’re all young men, and we’re just here to play basketball games.”
“We don’t know what’s going on,” Jardine added. “For us, it’s like a motivation thing where we just want to go out and play basketball and be hungry and continue with our season, because our season is going to continue. It’s all about us; it’s all about our season.
Some fans offered their support for Boeheim before Tuesday night’s game.
“I feel sorry that he stuck up for a friend,” said 40-year-old Mike Wong of Syracuse. “He was just sticking up for Bernie. He didn’t understand the situation. I think the chancellor did the right thing.”
“It’s sad,” added 29-year-old Michael Knowles of Syracuse. “We’ve all stuck up for a friend and then realized we shouldn’t have. He (Boeheim) didn’t do anything wrong.”
In the last home game against Colgate 10 days ago, Fine’s customary seat was left vacant, and players tapped it as a symbolic gesture in support of Fine. On Tuesday night, there was no empty seat.
And the Rev. Robert Hoatson, president of Road to Recovery, a group that supports victims of sexual abuse, says Boeheim, too, should be gone.
“We want to keep saying that Jim Boeheim should resign or be fired,” Hoatson said.
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