There is an Orange County connection to the controversy swirling around the Syracuse Orangemen's basketball program.
His name is Mike Hopkins.
Amid growing calls for the head of Jim Boeheim, the head coach who just received a vote of confidence from his chancellor today, many believe it's time for Boeheim's assistant and hand-picked successor Hopkins to take over the winning program.
Boeheim's perceived crime was having had accused child molester Bernie Fine at his side for 35 years and--when strong evidence pointing to his associate head coach's guilt involving a ball boy was uncovered--giving an impassioned defense of his man and shitting on Fine's accusers.
Hopkins, who is from Laguna Hills, played at Mater Dei High School, where he was a member of the 1987 California State basketball championship team. Recruited by Fine, Hopkins played at Syracuse U from 1989 to 1993. He later became an assistant coach to Boeheim.
When Boeheim demoted Fine as his primary recruiting assistant, it was Hopkins and future Oklahoma City Thunder assistant GM Troy Weaver who took over the roadwork, landing players like Carmelo Anthony, Craig Forth, Billy Edelin and Gerry McNamara who would turn the program into a perennial national contender. The Orangemen, with one and done freshman 'Melo, won the NCAA title in 2003.
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Hopkins' ascension coupled with Fine's demotion would frost their relationship, which grew even more strained when Boeheim revealed the younger man should succeed him rather than Fine--despite the older man's associate head coach title.
Syracuse Chancellor Nancy Cantor fired Fine on Sunday, and while the president of a sexual abuse support group found that appropriate, he did not believe the university official went far enough. "I think Jim Boeheim should be fired or resign as well," the Rev. Robert Hoatson of Road to Recovery reportedly said Monday. "These boys were members of the basketball program. Jim Boeheim's responsibility is to oversee that program, and the children were not safe on his watch."
Today, an advocate revealed a fourth Fine molestation victim may have come forward. But with Boeheim having softened his hardline stance against accusers somewhat (while continuing to maintain he's not going anywhere), Cantor revealed today she is standing behind him. Hopkins, the pride of Mater Dei, will apparently have to wait a bit longer to move up a courtside chair.