SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine dismissed as "patently false" allegations that he molested two former ball boys for years, and the university chancellor vowed Friday to "do everything in our power to find the truth."
The school placed Fine on administrative leave "in light of the new allegations" that surfaced Thursday, just two weeks after the Penn State child sex-abuse scandal, and pending an investigation by the Syracuse City Police.
Fine, in his 35th season as a Syracuse assistant, asked for a quick review.
"Sadly, we live in an allegation-based society and an Internet age where in a matter of minutes one's lifelong reputation can be severely damaged," Fine said in a statement released by one of his attorneys. "I am confident that, as in the past, a review of these allegations will be discredited and restore my reputation."
Fine thanked Chancellor Nancy Cantor for her statement that "I should be accorded a fair opportunity to defend myself" and added: "I fully intend to do so."
Cantor vowed that the school will not turn a blind eye to the allegations made by two stepbrothers to ESPN.
"We know that many question whether or not a university in today's world can shine a harsh light on its athletics programs," Cantor said in an email to students, faculty and staff. "We are aware that many wonder if university administrations are willing to turn a blind eye to wrongdoing that may disrupt a successful sports program. I can assure you I am not."
Both of Fine's accusers are now adults. Bobby Davis, now 39, told ESPN that Fine molested him beginning in 1984 and that the sexual contact continued until he was around 27.
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.
The chancellor said a man contacted the school in 2005 about allegations he had previously reported to police of abuse in the 1980s and 1990s, but that police had declined to pursue it because the statute of limitations had expired.
She said the school conducted its own four-month investigation at that time, including interviews with people the accuser said would support his allegations, but all of them "denied any knowledge of wrongful conduct" by Fine.
Syracuse police spokesman Tom Connellan says the university did not contact police in 2005.
Kevin Quinn, the school's public-affairs official, said that when the school learned of the allegations in 2005, "it had already been reported to the Syracuse City Police."