Blog Entry

Why did Bernie Fine have nine cellphones?

Posted on: December 5, 2011 6:12 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2011 12:23 am
By Matt Norlander

There is plenty of flying shrapnel humming around the Syracuse/Bernie Fine case. Monday, the public was made privy to the items that federal authorities recently seized at Bernie Fine's house and workplace.

It's what you'd expect. All of his at-home electronics, including a raid on his Manley Field House office, too. But it's not what the authorities took the possessions, it's that Fine -- who still has not been charged with any crime and has denied all accusations -- reportedly was in possession of nine cellphones.

That's a detail that could potentially lead to serious collateral damage for Syracuse's basketball program down the road.

Even for a college coach, nine phones staggering number (still high if you want to assume five of those phones he no longer uses/are outdated). Plenty of cynics will greet this with mock applause, as assistants have been known to use extra phones as if they were a regular on "The Wire." For all the issues and problems Bernie Fine had in his life, there's really no plausible reason for him to explain having that many phones attached to his name.

We here at the blog mock Borzello for grotesquely having three.

There are plenty of issues bigger to this case than whether or not Fine was hardcore in helping Syracuse cheat. All of the sexual molestation allegations come in novel-weighted pages before we get to any NCAA impropriety, and I'm not saying that such impropriety is definitely even there. I'm saying Fine had nine cellphones and he was an assistant coach at a major D-I college basketball power.

Also, Fine was long off the recruiting trail, too. He wasn't he one working on landing the better Orange prospects in the past decade-plus. From a basketball standpoint, it doesn't make sense that he'd have that many cells to begin with. Those close to the program know Fine wasn't a cog in the recruiting machine at SU anymore.

Still, the question I can't get out of my head: Why so many phones, Bernie? (At the same time, I'm not in the mood to dip down into that dark territory right now.)

From the Post-Standard, here's an excerpt of what police were looking for and confiscated. (Note: Authorities couldn't care less, and it's out of their jurisdiction, if they ever came across information that showed illegal NCAA activity)
Two safety deposit boxes rented by Fine were also searched at local banks, according to the inventories from the execution of four search warrants. Seven letters were seized from one safe deposit box.

Authorities led by the U.S. Secret Service and Syracuse police searched Fine's house in DeWitt Nov. 25 and Fine's SU office Nov. 29. Records show the agents were looking for pornographic material and records relating to any association with boys, past or present, and any records of boys living in Fine's home. The agents also sought all records of interstate or foreign travel, such as records of air travel and hotels.

From Fine's home ... the Secret Service seized nine cell phones, three iPads, two laptop computers and one desktop computer, the documents show. They seized six still or video cameras, 16 VHS tapes and nearly 150 CD's or DVD's, the records show. The agents also seized a bag of negatives, seven safe deposit box keys, file cabinets, two boxes of documents and two boxes of checks from the home, the records show.

From Fine's office at SU's office ... the agents seized a laptop computer, a desktop computer, 135 CDs, 217 VHS tapes, and a box of documents and photos, the records show.

The irony of this is, the NCAA recently rejiggered its bylaws in regard to cellphone usage. It finally let go of so many strict, stale rules with phones, including text-messaging and Facebook/Twitter-related activity. But Fine had these phones before those rules were alleviated. It's a ways down the road, and the NCAA is acquiescing everything (rightfully) to to authorities right now, so this is just a side note to this mammoth case that's got 20 times as many questions as answers right now.

The potential victims remain the center of this case, but from a basketball and athletics perspective, Syracuse is by no means in the clear. Fine could ruin his school's name even more if one clue leads to another, and suddenly he's caught red-handed in cheating. This could come back to Jim Boeheim once again, too.

Sometime in the future, the NCAA may want to or be able to look into the records and see just who was getting called from all of Fine's phones.  The irony: AAU coaches and runners could end up being the best of the bunch, the stuff we'd all prefer to see, if anything wrong is on the phone records at all.


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Since: Dec 6, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 8:16 pm

Why did Bernie Fine have nine cellphones?

Riveting prose.  Some of my favorite selections from a grammatical perspective (italics/underline my callouts):
But it's not what the authorities took the possessions, it's that Fine -- who still has not been charged with any crime and has denied all accusations -- reportedly was in possession of nine cellphones
Even for a college coach, nine phones staggering number (still high if you want to assume five of those phones he no longer uses/are outdated).

Great writing and proofing.  Also, love how you attempt to capitalize on the attention around the alleged serious crimes of child molestation to conjure up potential NCAA violations.  Fantastic.  If you hadn't heard, the public no longer cares about frivolous NCAA violations & enforcement. Don't insult the alleged victims by trying to turn the focus towards stupid NCAA policies for the sake of pageviews.

-Not a Syracuse fan...

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 2:23 pm

Hey Matt Norlander...

Just out of curiousity, what was second on your list of blog topics to write about today???  Thanks for wasting 5 minutes of my life with this ridiculous article...  For your information, my five year old collects old cell phones so you can write your next story on his collection of 23 cell phones.  I can just see it now, "Why on earth would a 5 year old have 23 cell phones - could he be cornering the market on calls to Santa"????

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:21 pm

The Witch Hunt continues...

I am trusting the legal system to determine Fine's guilt and praying that they get the verdict right, whichever way it goes.  

I still think that this is the beginning of a wave of "victims" looking for money, and that nobody who has ever worn a whistle is truly safe from what is going on now.  One thing that can be said for certain, though: if having eight cellphones meant that one is guilty of molesting children, the US would be a very, very dangerous place to raise a child.  

Since: Mar 19, 2007
Posted on: December 6, 2011 11:50 am

Why did Bernie Fine have nine cellphones?

If my house was searched right now, they'd find 10 cell phones.  My wife and I keep all our old phones, and we still charge 2 of the old ones, because my 2 year old loves to pretend she's on the phone.  If all 9 phones were active lines I'll shut up, but what's next?  How many AA batteries did they find in the drawer? 21?!?!  Why so many Bernie?

Since: Apr 26, 2008
Posted on: December 6, 2011 11:32 am

Why did Bernie Fine have nine cellphones?

I have a bunch of electronics because I do not know what to do with it.  Broken computer?  Does it have passwords on it that are still relevant and obtainable somehow?  Does it have stuff in it to prevent it from being landfilled?  I just don't know, so easier to stick in the basement and deal with it later.

Since: Mar 4, 2007
Posted on: December 6, 2011 6:58 am

Why did Bernie Fine have nine cellphones?

My daughter and I each have a cell phone.  We usually get new ones every 2 years.  Including the ones that we are currently using, there are 7 cell phones in the house, 5 which are out of service.  Maybe Fine and his wife got new cells every 2 years and just kept the old phones lying around the house.  That is what most people do.  What a stupid premise for an article.

Since: Jan 11, 2007
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:06 am

Why did Bernie Fine have nine cellphones?

I just answered my own question...You trying to gwt a job with ESPN after they fire Schwartz for tampering with a police investigation.

Since: Jan 11, 2007
Posted on: December 6, 2011 12:03 am

Why did Bernie Fine have nine cellphones?

I have one daughter 25, one wife, I just looked in the kitchen drawer and found 5 cell phones.  Counting the 3 we have in our possesion that is eight.

Are you serious with this article?? 

Since: Jul 23, 2008
Posted on: December 5, 2011 11:32 pm

Why did Bernie Fine have nine cellphones?

I will answer the question you asked ten times, it was so you had some reason to write a rediculous article, I cannot believe the garbage this website allows you "journalists" to write about. And to insinuate the reason might be major recruiting violatation? Come on CBS, this is a very poor attempt at a news article.

Since: Feb 21, 2011
Posted on: December 5, 2011 11:21 pm

Why did Bernie Fine have nine cellphones?

Give me a break. Nine cell phones is the damning evidence you decide to zero in on? So let's say a women has twenty pairs of shoes in her closet, that would be an indication she's guilty of some crime if she were under investigation, or the fact that I OWN half a dozen computers, admittedly way more than I need, WOULD be a sign of my guilt should I happen to be ACCUSED of some illegality? "Articles" like this are an embarrassment to what used to be a rich newspaper tradition of investigative journalism. Just PATHETIC.

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