May 30th, 2012
02:26 AM ET

NBA draft lottery could help Michael Jordan

his is the time of the year where NBA executives may get a little religious, praying that the ping pong balls in Wednesday's NBA draft lottery fall in their favor.

Nobody may be praying harder than Michael Jordan whose Charlotte Bobcats is the the losingest team in NBA history.

The Bobcats ended the season with a record of 7-59 and finished with an all-time worst .106 winning percentage.

For the lottery, the league assigns ping pong balls to the worst performing teams. The poorer a team performed in the season, the more balls it gets.

The idea is to help the team get first dibs in the draft and pick up a promising player.

The Bobcats' dismal distinction means it will have a 25% chance of getting the top pick in Wednesday's draft lottery - and the greatest chance at picking Kentucky's all-world big man Anthony Davis.

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Judge tosses defamation suit against Syracuse's Boeheim
May 11th, 2012
05:36 PM ET

Judge tosses defamation suit against Syracuse's Boeheim

A New York State Supreme Court justice dismissed Friday a defamation lawsuit against Syracuse University and its longtime head basketball coach, Jim Boeheim.

The suit was filed in December by two former ball boys for the basketball team, who have accused Bernie Fine, a former assistant coach, of repeated sexual abuse when they were children.

Boeheim (pictured) initially supported Fine, a longtime friend and colleague, accusing Mike Lang and his stepbrother, Bobby Davis, of fabricating their accusations of Fine's alleged misconduct. The coach later apologized for his comments.

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Survivor of 2 plane crashes still intends to play college ball
Austin Hatch survived two plane crashes that, collectively, killed his parents and two siblings. He's recovering from serious injuries.
May 1st, 2012
07:14 PM ET

Survivor of 2 plane crashes still intends to play college ball

Things were looking bright for 16-year-old Austin Hatch as last summer began. The Indiana boy who had survived a plane crash that killed his mother and two siblings eight years earlier had just verbally committed to playing basketball for the University of Michigan in 2013.

Then the 6-foot, 6-inch high school basketball star boarded another small plane - piloted by his father, who also flew the 2003 flight - bound for the family’s summer home in Michigan.

That plane crashed as it approached a Michigan airport on June 24, 2011, this time killing his father and stepmother.

Austin survived again, but now with brain bruising and other injuries, and without any immediate family members. He was in a medically induced coma for weeks and underwent months of physical therapy.

This week, he told the Detroit Free Press that he’ll still be on Michigan’s team when the 2013-2014 season begins.

"I'm still going on a full basketball scholarship,” Austin told the Free Press for a story published Tuesday. “I'll still be on the team and all of that and go to practice and everything. But I just don't know if I'll be quite as good as I was before.

“But I still have over a year until then, so a lot can happen."

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May 1st, 2012
03:58 AM ET

Lakers' Jordan Hill charged with felony as team competes in playoffs

As the Los Angeles Lakers take to the court Tuesday for Game 2 of the NBA playoffs, a key question is whether the team's forward Jordan Hill will square off against the Denver Nuggets.

Authorities in Texas have charged Hill, 24, with assaulting a family member, a felony that could yield up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 if he is convicted.

Donna Hawkins, the assistant district attorney in Harris County, said Monday an arrest warrant for Hill will be issued once the magistrate has signed the paperwork - unless the player turns himself in first.

After a lengthy training session Monday, Hill issued a statement apologizing to fans "for the untimeliness of these accusations."

Hill, who scored 10 points and 10 rebounds in the Lakers' 103-88 win over the Nuggets on Sunday, told reporters he did not expect to miss any games.

"I'll be here," he said.

The charge stems from an incident on February 29 when Hill allegedly choked his girlfriend of two years at his home in Houston after the two got into an argument about their "future," authorities said.

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Jordan's Bobcats could set NBA record for worst winning percentage
Bobcats owner Michael Jordan watches the scoreboard during a January game.
April 26th, 2012
11:43 AM ET

Jordan's Bobcats could set NBA record for worst winning percentage

As the NBA ends its regular season Thursday night, one team has a chance to join its owner, Michael Jordan, in the league record books.

The only problem is, while Jordan is at the top of those records, his team could be at the bottom.

If the Charlotte Bobcats lose to the New York Knicks at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Thursday night, they will finish the regular season with the worst winning percentage in league history: .106 on a record of 7 wins, 59 losses. That would be worse than the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who finished at .110 (9-73). There is a difference in the number games because this NBA season was shortened by a labor dispute between the league and its players.

The Bobcats are also on a 22-game losing streak. With a loss Thursday night, they'll tie the 1997-98 Denver Nuggets and the 1995-96 Vancouver Grizzlies for the second-longest losing streak in NBA history. Only the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers have strung more losses in a row, 26.

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Nets end 35-year run in New Jersey, head to Brooklyn
A fan holds up a sign bidding farewell to the New Jersey Nets at the Prudential Center in Newark on Monday night.
April 24th, 2012
11:46 AM ET

Nets end 35-year run in New Jersey, head to Brooklyn

When the New Jersey Nets game ended Monday night, Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" blared over the loudspeakers at the Prudential Center in Newark.

When the Nets play their next home game, expect "Brooklyn (Go Hard)" - from Nets co-owner Jay-Z - to be the song of choice.

That's because the NBA team ended their 35-year run in New Jersey on Monday night with a 105-87 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Come fall, the team will become the Brooklyn Nets and play their games in the brand-new Barclays Center in the New York borough.

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April 19th, 2012
02:17 PM ET

Tennessee's Summitt: 'It has been a privilege'

Pat Summitt said Thursday it wasn't easy stepping down as University of Tennessee women's basketball coach, but nearly a year after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, it was time.

"It's never a good time (to step down), but you have to find a time that you think is a good time, and that time is now," she told reporters at Tennessee's Thompson-Boling Arena.

Summitt, whose 1,098 wins are the most in major-college basketball history, spoke to reporters a day after the school announced that she would now serve as "head coach emeritus," helping with on-campus recruiting and mentoring players. Her associate head coach, Holly Warlick, has been named Summitt's successor after being an assistant on the team's staff for 27 seasons.

Shortly before Thursday afternoon's news conference, the White House announced that President Barack Obama would award Summitt the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, CNN's Brianna Keilar reported.

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Pat Summitt steps down as Tennessee women's basketball coach
Summitt, seen here in 2011, announced she had early onset Alzheimer's disease last year.
April 18th, 2012
02:08 PM ET

Pat Summitt steps down as Tennessee women's basketball coach

[Updated at 4:40 p.m. ET] Eight months after revealing her diagnosis with early-onset Alzheimer's, the head coach of the University of Tennessee's women's basketball team announced she was stepping down Wednesday.

Summitt, who led the Lady Vols to eight national championships and whose 1,098 wins are the most in major-college basketball history, will now serve as "head coach emeritus," helping with on-campus recruiting, mentoring players and serving as a liaison between the coaching staff and the athletics director, Tennessee said.

"I've loved being the head coach at Tennessee for 38 years, but I recognize that the time has come to move into the future and to step into a new role," Summitt, 60, said in a statement released by Tennessee.

Holly Warlick, an assistant on the Tennessee staff for 27 seasons and a former Lady Vols player, has been named Summitt's successor.

"I support Holly Warlick being named the next head coach, and I want to help ensure the stability of the program going forward," Summitt said. "I would like to emphasize that I fully intend to continue working as head coach emeritus, mentoring and teaching life skills to our players, and I will continue my active role as a spokesperson in the fight against Alzheimer's through the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund."

Tennessee has scheduled a news conference for Thursday afternoon.

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Connecticut men's hoops team banned from next year's NCAA tourney
The Huskies, who won the 2011 men's title against Butler, will not be in the 2013 tourney.
April 5th, 2012
03:45 PM ET

Connecticut men's hoops team banned from next year's NCAA tourney

[Updated at 5:20 p.m. ET] The University of Connecticut men's basketball team cannot compete for next year's national championship after the NCAA denied the school's appeal of a postseason ban based on its athletes' academic performance, the university said Thursday.

The Huskies earlier had been ordered to sit out the 2013 NCAA tournament, because of its past players' sub-par academic performance rate. Led by longtime coach Jim Calhoun, the program had won that tourney last spring and, thus, captured the national title.

The University of Connecticut appealed that decision, but to no avail, NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson confirmed.

"It is disturbing that our current players must pay a penalty for the academic performance of students no longer enrolled," University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst said in a statement. "No educator or parent purposefully punishes young people for the failings of others."

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Low-scoring hoops player drops 113 in game
Mohammad El Akkari's tally on Tuesday was 105 points more than his season average.
April 4th, 2012
04:46 PM ET

Low-scoring hoops player drops 113 in game

Mohammad El Akkari isn't exactly his basketball club’s usual No. 1 scoring option. He averaged 7.6 points in the first 23 games of the Lebanese Division A League Final 8 season.

On Tuesday, he appears to have made an argument for taking a few more shots.

Akkari, a guard playing for Moutahed of Tripoli, scored 113 points - including 32 three-pointers, and only one free throw - in his team’s 173-141 win against Bejjeh, according to FIBA Asia.

He is the first player to score more than 100 points in an official game in any of the leagues under the umbrella of Asia’s basketball governing body.

Akkari shot 32-for-59 (54%) from behind the 3-point arc, and an overall 40-for-69 from the field.

“Thank God for this performance. I think it’s all a result of my practice,” Akkari said after the game, according to FIBA Asia. “I also want to thank my coach for letting me play that long and all my teammates for helping.”

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Baylor star center Brittney Griner leads team to 40-0 season, championship
Baylor's Brittney Griner cuts down the net after the Lady Bears thrashed Notre Dame 80-61 on Tuesday night.
April 4th, 2012
09:54 AM ET

Baylor star center Brittney Griner leads team to 40-0 season, championship

If she hadn't made the point already that she and the Baylor Lady Bears were the queens of women's hoops, Brittney Griner left no doubts Tuesday night.

With their 80-61 win over Notre Dame, the Bears did the unprecedented, winning 40 straight games in a season and planting themselves firmly in the debate over which is the best women's college team ever. In a game that was close before the Bears shredded the Fighting Irish 46-33 in the second half, Griner filled the stat sheet as she's done all season.

Playing all but one minute, the Naismith Trophy winner tallied 26 points, 13 boards and five blocks. Oh, and she tossed in an assist for good measure. Her shooting percentage in the second half? A lights-out 89%.

While all the talk after the men's championship revolved around the next level - who's going to the pros, who's staying for another year - Griner, a junior, has insisted she will forgo making upwards of $1 million, a fortune in women's hoops, to play for the Lady Bears her senior season. Yes, even if Baylor won the championship game, she has said.

The Lady Bears' performance made them only the 10th women's team to run the table since 1972, when the tournament era began.

Now, undefeated seasons in women's hoops aren't the shooting stars they are in the men's game. The Connecticut Huskies' women's team went 39-0 in 2002, 2009 and 2010, whereas the last men's team to run the table was the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers.

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Kentucky's Anthony Davis says he hasn't decided on NBA yet
Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis clutches the NCAA trophy after the Wildcats won the national championship Monday night.
April 3rd, 2012
12:03 PM ET

Kentucky's Anthony Davis says he hasn't decided on NBA yet

John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats are known as the "one-and-done" team because the squad's stellar young players are expected to go immediately from winning the NCAA National Championship into the NBA after one season.

But after Monday night's 69-57 win over Kansas, might Kentucky be a team that's one title down but not yet done? Is it possible that some players may surprise everyone and stick around for another season?

At a news conference after taking the national championship, the Wildcats were peppered with reporters' questions about the team's youth and whether their star athletes would say if they're ready to head to the big leagues. The team of big men and sharp shooters often has been compared to Michigan's famed Fab Five of the early '90s, who were all drafted in the first round of the NBA.

Anthony Davis has led Kentucky throughout the year. But Monday night, when he realized his shots weren't falling, he dominated on defense, racking up 16 rebounds, six blocked shots, five assists and three steals.

As the Naismith Player of the Year, Davis faced the most media inquiries about where he might be hitting the hardwood next year. One of the first questions was whether he was ready to come out for the NBA draft.

“No, I haven’t decided,” Davis said Monday night. “Coach (Calipari) says we have till April 29 to decide. I’m just going to wait till then, sit down with my coach, sit down with my family, see what the best decision is for me."

Davis is known as much for his tough play and dominating performances as his unibrow, which has become a rallying cry and point of pride for Kentucky fans.

SportsPickle.com: Ten best Davis unibrow tributes

It would be a big loss for Kentucky but a great gain for an NBA team, many analysts say, if Davis made the jump to the big leagues.

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March 20th, 2012
10:25 AM ET

Southern Miss takes disciplinary action against students for derogatory chant

Five members of the University of Southern Mississippi pep band have had their scholarships revoked and have been removed from the band after they yelled a derogatory chant at a Puerto Rican player during an NCAA basketball tournament game last week.

The school announced the disciplinary action in a statement Tuesday, saying the five "have been forthcoming, cooperative, contrite and sincerely remorseful."

"They acted rashly and inappropriately, and now see the gravity of their words and actions," Vice President for Student Affairs Joe Paul said. "This is a teachable moment, not only for these students but for our entire student body and those who work with them."

The students will also be required to complete a two-hour training course on cultural sensitivity, the school said.

TV cameras captured the incident during the University of Southern Mississippi-Kansas State University game at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Thursday.

As Kansas State point guard Angel Rodriguez shot free throws, several people could clearly be heard chanting, "where's your green card."

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Lin's star fading as Knicks falter
Jeremy Lin talks with New York Knicks interim coach Mike Woodson during Wednesday night's game in New York.
March 16th, 2012
12:36 PM ET

Lin's star fading as Knicks falter

"Linsanity," the worldwide craze over the exploits of New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin, has flamed out quicker than the lifespan of a firefly.

"R.I.P. Linsanity" read a headline emblazoned on a tombstone pictured on the back page of the New York Post on Friday. "Briefly beloved Broadway smash hit, February 4, 2012, to March 14, 2012," the remaining inscription said.

The sports cover of Friday's New York Post

Lin, a 23-year-old Harvard graduate, burst onto the basketball scene in early February when then-Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni called him off the bench as the Knicks struggled against the New Jersey Nets. Lin responded with 25 points, leading the Knicks to victory. A seven-game winning streak, including a victory over All-Star Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, followed, with Lin coming up with clutch plays to lead the way.

The winning streak lifted the Knicks from also-rans to playoff contenders. Lin jerseys sold out in sporting goods stores. Lin got a special invite to participate in an All-Star weekend game for the league's future stars. International attention spiked, and Lin had to ask that reporters in Taiwan leave his grandmother alone. Even President Obama took notice.

And everywhere were the puns using the Asian-American's last name: Linsational. Linspiration. Linderella. And, of course, Linsanity.

But like a Wall Street stock, it's performance over time that establishes equity, and that's where Lin's value has withered.

The Knicks have lost eight of their past 11 games, and Wednesday, D'Antoni resigned, replaced in the interim by NBA veteran coach Mike Woodson.

Woodson emphasizes defense and ball control on the court, the opposite of the fast-paced style that was favored by D'Antoni and suited to Lin's game, according to New York media reports.

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From Anthony Davis' unibrow to the 'Boss Button': March Madness by the numbers
Anthony Davis is one of the tourney's most electrifying players. His Kentucky Wildcats are one of the most electrifying teams.
March 15th, 2012
11:25 AM ET

From Anthony Davis' unibrow to the 'Boss Button': March Madness by the numbers

March Madness is a time for numbers. The number one, for instance, represents the top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats or, perhaps, the number of eyebrows that their star freshman forward, Anthony Davis, has.

You know you're good when you not only rock a unibrow with abandon, but your mom shows up to a game with a unibrow mask. Simply put, dude's a beast. If you want some more stunning numbers from the 6-foot-10 Davis, he averaged more than 14 points, 10 rebounds and almost five blocks per game during the season.

One more number: He celebrated a birthday Sunday. His 19th.

But the tournament is much bigger than one player, and there are several teams - especially in the loaded South region - that will be looking to take John Calipari's Wildcats down a notch.

The games tip off today at 12:15 p.m. ET. Here's a look at the tournament by the numbers, with big ups to Amy Roberts at the CNN Library for putting these together:

67 – Number of games in the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

68 – Number of teams invited to be in the tournament.

1 in 4,294,967,296Chances of creating the perfect bracket through the first round.

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Picking the teams to win NCAA tournament can be ... well, madness
Kentucky may be the No. 1 seed, but Vanderbilt walked away with the SEC Tournament title Sunday.
March 12th, 2012
12:30 PM ET

Picking the teams to win NCAA tournament can be ... well, madness

Geez, how am I supposed to get my bracket done with my bosses asking me to do all this work? Ridiculous.

March Madness, that magical season of underdogs and lost productivity, is again upon us, and folks across the nation will scramble from Web page to Web page for the next three days, hoping to get an edge in this year’s NCAA college basketball tournament.

Before you waste ludicrous amounts of your and your employers’ time, consider this: Butler and VCU composed half of last year’s Final Four. I feel pretty confident in the assumption that almost no one reading this picked that pair.

Call the Bulldogs and Rams sleepers or flukes if you like, but it was Butler’s second-straight Final Four, and VCU has made it back to the Big Dance this year, albeit as a 12 seed.

If last year taught us anything, it’s that the term Cinderella, given to no-name teams who enjoy unexpected success in the tournament, is overplayed. Way overplayed.

This year’s matches promise to be just as unpredictable. If you were paying attention over the weekend, you saw that Michigan State was the only No. 1 seed to win its conference tournament.

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February 24th, 2012
12:17 PM ET

Disturbances prompt cancellations of some Nike releases

[Updated at 4:13 p.m. ET] Concerns about disturbances among large crowds waiting to buy special-edition Nike shoes tied to this weekend’s NBA All-Star Game prompted stores in several states to cancel the releases, media reports say.

Of particular interest among many would-be shoppers, according to the reports, was the $220 Nike Foamposite One Galaxy, a space-themed, glow-in-the dark shoe that nods to the space legacy of Florida, where this weekend’s game is happening in Orlando.

In Orlando on Thursday night, a Foot Locker House of Hoops store at Florida Mall cancelled a special 11 p.m. opening after police were called to handle a crowd of about 1,200 people, CNN affiliates Bay News 9 and WFTV reported.

The crowd outside the mall was moved across the street before the late-night opening. But at one point, people rushed toward the store, which was to sell the Foamposite One and other All-Star-related releases, the affiliates reported.

“People tried running over the cops. People tried just getting into that line,” witness Youssef Abounouadar told WFTV. “Everyone ran to the door, and it started getting really hectic.”

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Overheard on CNN.com: Fans say 'Linsanity' more than skin deep
Jeremy Lin holds the ball as the New York Knicks play the Los Angeles Lakers in New York last week.
February 15th, 2012
07:13 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Fans say 'Linsanity' more than skin deep

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Sports anchor Rick Quan wrote a commentary on CNN.com saying he believes the so-called "Linsanity" over New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin isn't just about race, but isn't completely devoid of it either. Our readers had a bit to say about the way race is discussed.

With Jeremy Lin, of course race matters

This was the most-liked comment:

cesarchavez: "Saying race plays a factor doesn't make one racist. It is simply stating facts. The same publicity Lin is getting because he's succeeding in a sport in which members of his race don't typically succeed is what Tiger Woods experienced with golf. If you have a black hockey player or a white basketball player having Lin-type success he would probably get more publicity than if you had a white hockey player or black basketball player doing the same thing. Race can matter without it being racist. People say all the time that we have our first black president. In that instance, bringing up President Obama's race matters, but one isn't necessarily racist for bringing it up."

That comment received several replies. Quan and readers were referencing a remark by famed boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.  FULL POST

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Will Ferrell pokes fun at NBA players in lineup intros
Will Ferrell brings his unique take on the starting lineup before the Hornets-Bulls game Wednesday night in New Orleans.
February 9th, 2012
04:12 PM ET

Will Ferrell pokes fun at NBA players in lineup intros

Poor New Orleans Hornets fans. The NBA team started the season miserably at 4-21, and ticket holders entered the New Orleans Arena on Wednesday night for what was probably going to be a beatdown by the 21-6 Chicago Bulls.

At least the Hornets faithful got some smiles on their faces before the drubbing, thanks to extended-stay visitor and actor/comedian Will Ferrell.

Ferrell, in New Orleans to shoot the movie "Dog Fight," introduced the starting lineups Wednesday night. And as Ferrell told it, Chicago Bulls star Carlos Boozer was not only a 6-foot-9 forward but also someone who "still stays with his mother."

Ferrell took biographic license with all 10 starters, sprinkling their introductions with presumably not-exactly-true nuggets and aspirations, such as Hornets guard Jarrett Jack wanting to become a rodeo clown, Bulls forward Luol Deng owning a pet dolphin named Chachi, Bulls guard Derrick Rose claiming "The Notebook" as his favorite movie, and Bulls center Joakim Noah being a horrible dancer.

(Well, he may have gotten that last one right.)

The players seemed to go along with the ribbing by Ferrell, who played an ABA player/team owner in the 2008 movie "Semi-Pro." Hornets center Emeka Okafor looked like he was amused after hearing that at the University of Connecticut, he "majored in econ, but he minored in love."

After the game, which the Bulls won in a 90-67 blowout, Deng claimed he didn't hear his intro. But having learned about it later, he said he felt the Funny or Die co-creator let him off easy.

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December 7th, 2011
11:21 AM ET

DA: Bernie Fine accusers credible, but statue of limitations expired

[Updated at 12:05 p.m. ET] A district attorney in central New York says that despite credible allegations of sexual misconduct against minors, he cannot bring charges against a former Syracuse University assistant basketball coach because the statute of limitations has expired.

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick offered a personal apology to Bobby Davis, a former Syracuse ball boy who says he informed Syracuse police in 2002 that he was subjected to inappropriate sexual contact by Bernie Fine.

Davis, now 39, alleges the former coach touched him inappropriately beginning in 1984, before he entered seventh grade, and the abuse continued until he was 27.

Timeline of Bernie Fine case

Fitzpatrick said was forced to get a subpoena to compel Syracuse police to hand over records related to the case.

Mike Lang, a stepbrother of Davis, also accused Fine of inappropriately touching him at various locations, including university basketball facilities. Similar allegations made by Zach Tomaselli, 23, are still being investigated by federal authorities.

Fine has not been charged with a crime and has maintained his innocence, saying the allegations are "patently false in every aspect." Syracuse fired him last month after Davis reiterated his allegations in an interview with ESPN and Lang went public with his allegations.

The district attorney's announcement comes after federal agents searched the home and office of the former coach, looking for possible evidence of his alleged interactions with minors, according to unsealed court documents.

The investigation at Syracuse comes in the wake of a sex abuse scandal at Penn State University, in which former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was accused of sexually abusing boys over a span of 14 years. Sandusky has maintained his innocence throughout the investigation - saying he only "horsed around" with the disadvantaged boys in his care - and is currently free on $100,000 bail.

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