With Bernie Fine fired as a Syracuse Orange assistant coach, reports and sources are starting to trickle out that tell a story about the strained relationships he had with head coach Jim Boeheim and fellow assistant Mike Hopkins.
ESPN.com's Andy Katz wrote a lengthy article on the unique culture of Syracuse basketball under Jim Boeheim on Tuesday. In it, he mentioned several reports that while they were friends, the relationship between Boeheim and Fine had deteriorated over the years.
"Several people close to the program told ESPN.com that Boeheim and Fine were very close for the first two-plus decades of their tenure but that the friendship has not been the same since Fine was essentially demoted in 2000. Recruiting had waned in the late 1990s and Fine's new title of associate head coach basically took him off the road and often relegated him to running the team's camps... It got to the point where Boeheim wasn't even recommending Fine for head-coaching jobs.
"The relationship, even among the families, deteriorated. When the Fines moved across the street from the Boeheims, multiple sources say it greatly irritated Boeheim's wife, Juli. She doesn't like Laurie Fine and made no secret of it."
Meanwhile, assistant coach Mike Hopkins has been the head coach-in-waiting for years, a status that seemingly jumped Bernie Fine in order of succession. That's a decision that seemed to have rankled the relationship between the two over the years.
Hopkins coached alongside Fine, who recruited him as a player, but according to a source, grew apart from Fine after he got the nod to succeed Boeheim over Fine. Fine was demoted and taken off the road when Hopkins and Troy Weaver, now the assistant general manager of the Oklahoma City Thunder, were the primary recruiting assistants. That's when the Orange signed Carmelo Anthony, Gerry McNamara, Craig Forth and Billy Edelin and changed the fortunes of what had become a middling program, winning the NCAA title in 2003.
According to the source, Fine and Hopkins' coaching relationship has not been the same since.
It's not surprising that Boeheim and Hopkins would want to distance themselves from Fine given the allegations and fallout. Every day there seems to be more developments and I'm sure there will be even more to come.
For more on these developments, visit Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician.