first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm The Syracuse community’s avid appreciation for Orange basketball and the revenue the team brings to the city’s economy are now being cited by Bobby Davis and Mike Lang’s attorneys as reason to move their defamation suit against Jim Boeheim out of Onondaga County. The lawyers filed papers Tuesday claiming residents’ ‘obsession’ with Syracuse University basketball prevented the former ball boys from receiving a fair trial.The legal papers filed by lawyers for Davis and Lang state the community’s focus on the team has always been intense, but it has been even more intense this year due to the team’s performance and high ranking for a majority of the season.Since head coach Boeheim took over the team in 1976, the Orange has experienced numerous victories, such as a near-national championship game win in 1987 when Davis worked as a ball boy, according to the papers. This year, the team was undefeated for the first several weeks of the season and is currently 26-1 and ranked second in the country.Syracuse itself is home to at least 30,000 alumni and many businesses that are supported by both the school and team’s nationally recognized success, lawyers wrote. The games bring in tens of thousands of fans, who eat and drink in local restaurants and stay in area hotels.Davis said the community’s obsession with the team creates a great recognition and emotional attachment to Boeheim and his players. The coach appears in a variety of television commercials, ranging from eyewear to local hospitals. He often receives free meals in restaurants; one restaurant has a front parking spot that reads ‘Reserved for Coach Boeheim,’ according to the papers.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘Even if potential jurors claim that they will be able to put aside their love of school and team, they will be unable to tease apart the deep loyalties they have to Boeheim and his employer, SU, and to the critical roles both play in the area’s economic life,’ lawyers wrote.For the 2010-11 academic year, lawyers wrote the team’s revenue was more than $19 million and the net profit to the university was $11.5 million. This made SU the 34th most profitable college sports team in the country and the fifth most profitable basketball team.The defamation suit against Boeheim results from Davis and Lang’s claim that the coach defamed them when he publicly accused the stepbrothers of lying about Bernie Fine, former associate men’s basketball coach, molesting them. Boeheim later apologized for these comments.The concern of Davis and Lang’s lawyers over the Orange-crazed community leading to an impartial trial is similar to the concerns that drove state prosecutors to seek a different jury pool in the child sexual abuse trial against former Pennsylvania State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, lawyers wrote.Davis and Lang said they understand the Syracuse community’s admiration for the university’s basketball team due to their own experiences and fondness for the team. But it was because of Boeheim and the team’s favorable treatment that Davis was initially ‘brushed aside’ when he attempted to inform local police or school officials about Fine’s abuse, lawyers wrote.‘Even today, both Bobby Davis and Mike Lang can readily spout statistics about the players, the schedule of games, the win-loss record, and many other Syracuse basketball-related facts,’ lawyers wrote. ‘In short the loyalty and emotion inspired by the Syracuse basketball team is deep-seated and not easily shaken.’On Feb. 21, Onondaga County Supreme Court Justice Brian DeJoseph is expected to hear the arguments of both sides on whether the defamation case should take place in New York City or Syracuse.Gloria Allred, the high-profile attorney representing Davis and Lang, said in an email she had no comment regarding the filing of the papers.Fine, who was fired from the university Nov. 27, has denied the allegations and has not been charged. Federal agents and the Syracuse Police Department continue to [email protected] center_img Commentslast_img

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