Despite some sordid (and reportedly not exactly consistent) allegations against him, former longtime Syracuse University assistant coach Bernie Fine has found employment in Israel. Marc Stein of ESPN is this morning reporting that Fine has been hired by Maccabi Haifa BC as a consultant to the team. The decision is expected to be announced today.
Fine, whose professional career in basketball coaching goes back to 1970, ultimately specialized in working with big men for Syracuse. Notable names emerging from his tutelage include Rony Seikaly and John Wallace, the latter of whom European basketball fans may recall from his season with Panionios. The coach’s resume also includes a World Maccabiah Games title earned in 1993 with that tournament’s Team USA squad.
Syracuse parted ways with Fine in November of last year, in light of accusations from three former ball boys that the coach had sexually molested them. While the evidence – including a recorded conversation between one of the accusers and Fine’s wife – was deemed damning enough to spur a US Secret Service-led search-and-seizure action at Fine’s residence, no formal charges have been filed. Indeed, with the alleged incidents occurring over 10 years ago, statutes of limitations may prevent any such legal action ever being taken.
However, this bit of the story is becoming more and more complicated as the news turns. Zach Tomaselli, one of Fine’s accusers who is himself being charged in a sexual-assault case, has in the past two weeks withdrawn his statements (describing himself as a “sociopath” in the process) and subsequently reiterated them.
It seems Haifa has little to lose – basketball-wise at least – with what is certain to be a controversial hire: After four seasons in the Ligat Ha’Al top division and one FIBA Eurochallenge bid, the club finished dead last in the Israeli league’s regular season at 5-19 in 2011-12.