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ESPN’s Pathetic Slow Play of the Laurie Fine Tape & Why Doc Gross is Silent

Another day, another set of stories to sift through. Wouldn’t it be nice to just be focused on the bowl math for football and a top 3 team in America taking the court again tonight? Instead, it’s “As the Orange Burns” – every day on Soap Net. Listen to Fizz Radio’s Special Report covering all angles of the effect this will have on SU. Here’s three dynamics I can’t get out of my mind.
  • ESPN slow-played the Laurie Fine tape for dramatic effect.
Sports by Brooks published an intriguing video this morning asking the moral question: If ESPN had the tape for nine years, how did it not have the same responsibility to alert authorities that any civilian does? You could argue on behalf of ESPN, like the Post-Standard has, the tape itself does not corroborate Davis’ story. That legally, both media outlets could get slammed by slander litigation had they run this without Mike Lang’s second accusation.

 

But why did ESPN hang onto the tape ten days after the initial report? The excuse that the entity needed tech experts to validate Laurie’s voice is totally pathetic. Wouldn’t that have been done weeks, months, if not years ago? You have a story and this evidence for nine years. There is no need to run the Davis/Lang accusations immediately. You can obviously wait the ten days to get it all lined up. But ESPN wanted to “own” the Syracuse story and is right now soaking it for all its worth. What’s next? Sunday we’ll have hidden video footage of Jim Boeheim in Bernie’s room at the ’87 Final Four?

 

ESPN is not responsible for protecting Boeheim from himself. But had this tape been released with the initial report, The Per’fesser would have never come out so strongly in support of Bernie, nor accused Davis/Lang of extortion. So ESPN “breaks” the story, smirks as Boeheim buries himself, then hides behind the flimsy excuse “we needed to wait to have it verified.” We thought ESPN was playing fast and loose with journalistic standards before? This is a new low.
  • Is Dr. Gross so silent because he led the ’05 internal investigation? 
I have yet to hear SU place specific dates or names on the university inquiry six years ago. But Gross was hired by Syracuse in ’04 and the investigation occurred some time the next year. Remember the culture Gross walked into. He was met with skepticism for being an outsider, was seen as a hotshot from the West Coast who was constantly shmoozing using dueling cell phones, and hired a questionable football coach in Greg Robinson.

Could Gross have actually led an unbiased in-depth, dirt-digging investigation into the background of a pedophile assistant coach, which may have brought down the program and a civic legend in Boeheim? No chance. More likely, Gross was caught in the unenviable position of having to look for something, but not wanting to find too much. Now, he’s gone into hiding as the public searches for answers. Not a coincidence.

 

This is not to absolve the university of Gross of blame. Mike Waters told WFAN yesterday there’s evidence SU did turn a deaf ear to some of Davis’ claims in ’05. Waters said police recently contacted people Davis pointed them towards who said they were never called by the university six years ago. Syracuse probably never wanted to know the entire truth and Fine should be prosecuted to the fullest if there’s evidence. But it makes sense why Gross has gone into the bunker.
  •  The Taiwanese animation is outstanding. 
This entire situation makes your stomach churn. But at long last, something to smile about. This video is amazing. We scoff at the ridiculousness of these pieces, but there’s some incredible symbolism and artistic interpretation going on. No wonder why they’ve become a cultural phenomenon. Fine getting tossed from a game by the official and being hit by thrown oranges? Davis sullenly walking by three blind monkeys with the Syracuse, ESPN and Post-Standard logos on them? Mark Schwartz literally kicking the tape under the rug?

 

There are some bizarre representations that are over my head. The Penn State logo gushing water out both sides? CNN finally reporting the story? Laurie Fine looking svelte? But overall the Taiwanese knocked this out of the park. You know it’s bad when this is the bright spot of your day. Maybe I’ll send this link to Daryl.

 

Posted: D.A.

 

The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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