If Jim Boeheim’s explanation for what prompted his sudden tirade against an ESPN reporter is accurate, the father figure of Syracuse hoops showed remarkable restraint with his word choice.
Boeheim, who called senior college basketball writer Andy Katz an “idiot” and “disloyal person” while dismissing his postgame question in one multi-layered act of defiance, tipped Bud Poliquin of the Syracuse Post Standard on the backstory behind the feud. At issue is Katz’s aggressiveness trying to coax information about former Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine, whom the school fired last season amid allegations of sexual molestation.
“It’s really simple,” he explained. “I went to New York last year to play in the (NIT Pre-Season Tip-Off) Tournament in November and he (Katz) asked if he could interview me about the tournament. And I said, ‘Yeah, but I can’t talk about the (Bernie Fine) investigation.’
“We got in the room and he put me on camera — there were several witnesses there — and he asked me what I’d told him I couldn’t answer. I kept telling him, ‘I can’t answer that.’ And he asked me, like, 10 times on camera. He never took the camera off me.
“Two or three people in the room were so disgusted they walked out of the room. The producer came over and apologized afterward. And I told Katz right then and there, ‘Don’t talk to me. Do not try to talk to me again.’
“That’s what this is about. It’s about one thing: An interview that was supposed to be about a tournament we were playing in, and not about the (Bernie Fine) case. And he kept asking me about the case over and over and over again. He kept the camera on me, trying to get me to react … and I just didn’t.”
Katz responded to Boeheim’s explication, denying that he ever agreed to a deal about the questions he would ask before the interview.
“There was no deal,” Katz said. “I don’t cut deals. He might have thought there was a deal, but I have never, ever made a deal.”
Perhaps then Katz is willing to divulge the identities of all the unnamed sources he’s cited over the years as a reporter. After all, he doesn’t cut deals with anyone.
Katz admitted to repeating a question about Fine five or six times variably throughout the interview.
“The reason I did that,” Katz said “is because with guys like Jim Boeheim, John Calipari, Jim Calhoun they’ll, say there’s a certain subject they don’t want to talk about and then they’ll talk about it. If I asked it one too many times, fine, criticize me. I was just trying to see if he’d answer the question.”
Translation: he tried to pull a fast one. Boeheim didn’t take the bait.
Muckraking journalism has become a staple to E!SPN’s programming over the years. Between the network’s irresponsible reporting of the Fine situation — low-lighted by its own role in sitting on evidence for years and exacerbated by Mark Schwarz’s involvement in allegedly abetting Fine’s accusers in constructing their defense — its full-throttle ambush of Miguel Tejada for fibbing about his age and countless other missteps filling the gaps, the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” will stop at nothing to finagle ratings-driven, sensationalistic material.
Katz’s slimy antics — again, assuming what Boeheim, who’s often outspoken but never intentionally duplicitous, says is true — fall in line with E!SPN’s growing Schappification of sports news. The chicanery has earned the network a cozy seat in Boeheim’s crowded doghouse for the foreseeable future.
Hope that nagging question about Fine was worth the trouble.