Yahoo’s Charles Robinson Says Bernie Fine Scandal Prompted Drug Findings

Chalk up another victim of the snowball effect, and SU’s Doomsday scenario.

Chalk up another victim of the Bernie Fine scandal. Not only did the long time assistant coach lose his job, Bobby Davis was allegedly abused, and the program receive some serious collateral damage, but this was also the genesis of the Yahoo! Sports drug report. Charles Robinson says the reason he began poking around the SU basketball program was because of the Fine Scandal.

“This really stretches back to when assistant coach Bernie Fine was fired by the Syracuse basketball program. He faced some charges, and was ultimately dismissed from the Syracuse basketball program. I think Pat Forde and myself began to dig into the culture of Syracuse, anything and everything that encompasses Syracuse basketball. Over a span of time really since early December, you start talking to individuals around the program, individuals inside the program who have come out, just about what’s going on at Syracuse. You began to hear about drug testing irregularities. Athletes who had played games when possibly at times when they weren’t eligible to play games… by the letter of the Syracuse drug policy. It was really something that developed over a three month span.”  

An article by Robinson and Forde reports, “four sources with intimate knowledge of the Syracuse men’s basketball program told Yahoo! Sports at least 10 players since 2001 have tested positive for a banned recreational substance or substances. The sources said all 10 of those players were allowed to practice and play at times when they should have been suspended by the athletic department, including instances when some players may not have known of their own ineligibility.”

Yahoo! alleges that this could have been happening as far back as 2001 and including the 2003 season. The report also says if Syracuse knowingly violated its own drug policies, it could trigger the NCAA’s “Willful Violators” cause, which is used for schools that have a “pattern of deliberate or intentional rule-breaking.”

Syracuse University released a statement in response the Yahoo! report saying:

“We self-reported issues with drug testing to the NCAA, and there is currently an ongoing inquiry.  The inquiry does not involve any current SU student-athletes. To ensure the integrity of the ongoing process, we are unable to comment further at this time.”

The most important part of that statement by far is that the inquiry does not involve any current SU student-athletes. If that is the case, there is no reason this investigation should impact the current season. It’s next to impossible the NCAA could act swiftly enough to levy any punishments before the tournament ends regardless of what potential violations occurred.

These are certainly allegations that if true, could bring some NCAA punishment for SU down the road. If it’s found the Orange was using ineligible players, the NCAA could then vacate wins, as it did with USC football when it ruled Reggie Bush was ineligible.

The Doomsday scenario is if one or more of the alleged violations occurred during the ‘03 championship season and calls that season into question. It’s way too early to speculate as to whether that is going to be the case. But the mere possibility is enough to make Orange nation nervous.

As for this year’s 30-1 team however, no one on the roster is accused of any wrongdoing, which should alleviate every fan’s biggest fear. If no current players are involved, then this story is nothing more than a potential distraction. But it doesn’t make Orange Nation feel much better, knowing that without the Fine scandal, this report likely never sees the light of day.

Posted: Steve Neikam

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