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Laurie Fine to sue ESPN, accuses network of libel

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Laurie Fine, the wife of former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine, will sue ESPN for libel in response to the network’s reporting of her involvement in the alleged incidents that led to child molestation accusations being levied against her husband, the Post-Standard is reporting.

In a 44-page document provided to the Post-Standard, the lawsuit accuses reporter Mark Schwarz and producer Andy Berko of acting negligently in their reporting of the allegations against Bernie Fine and casting Laurie Fine in a false light by taking her words out of context.

This news comes just prior to Fine’s scheduled 11 a.m. press conference Wednesday, where an announcement of the lawsuit is to be made. She will reportedly file the lawsuit in federal court in the coming days.

The lawsuit goes on to say that ESPN “spitefully destroyed Laurie Fine’s reputation in an attempt to capitalize financially in the wake of the Penn State sex abuse scandal,” including publishing false and defamatory statements, among them that she created “a space in which children could be sexually molested in secret.”

Bernie Fine has not been charged and has denied any and all accusations against him.

Much of Fine’s case against ESPN will hinge on whether she is determined to be a public or private person, as the standards for libel are much higher for a public figure.

As the Post-Standard explains, as a private person, Fine would need to prove that ESPN departed grossly from journalistic standards by publishing the piece, and did so with “gross irresponsibility.”

Were it to be determined that she is a public figure, she would need to prove that ESPN published the report with malice and reckless disregard for the truth.

A link to the text of Fine’s lawsuit can be found here.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Sweet — the 24-hour hoops marathon returns

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Get the Red Bull out and prep the coffee pot — College basketball’s delightful day is back for the third straight year.

ESPN’s 24-hour hoops marathon schedule is slated for Tuesday, Nov. 16. This year’s telecast features 20 live games (19 men’s and one women’s) broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, while ESPN3.com also will have two games. And it’s a helluva slate, perhaps the best ever in college hoops’ unofficial kickoff.

It features three teams from the 2010 Final Four, the debut of Louisville’s new KFC Yum! Center (I can’t type that enough) and Steve Lavin’s St. John’s debut.

The primetime games – Ohio State at Florida and Butler at Louisville – are can’t-miss matchups, though Virginia Tech at Kansas State and San Diego State at Gonzaga both feature NCAA tournament-worthy teams. If your schedule’s limited, tune in between 4 and 1 a.m. ET. That’s four games with highlights that’ll get you in the mood for hoops.

A complete schedule is below. 

Time Matchup Network
Midnight Miami at Memphis ESPN/ESPN3.com
2 a.m. St. John’s at St. Mary’s SPN/ESPN3.com
4 a.m. Central Michigan at Hawaii ESPN/ESPN3.com
6 a.m. Stony Brook at Monmouth SPN/ESPN3.com
8 a.m. Robert Morris at Kent State ESPN/ESPN3.com
10 a.m. Northeastern at So. Illinois ESPN/ESPN3.com
Noon Oral Roberts at Tulsa ESPN/ESPN3.com
2 p.m. La Salle at Baylor ESPN/ESPN3.com
4 p.m. Virginia Tech at Kansas State ESPN/ESPN3.com
5:30 p.m. NIT Season Tip-Off: Marist at Villanova ESPNU
6 p.m. Ohio State at Florida ESPN/ESPN3.com
6 p.m. Women’s Tip-Off Classic: Baylor at Connecticut ESPN2/ESPN3.com
7:30 p.m. CBE Classic: Miami (Ohio) at Duke ESPNU
8 p.m. Butler at Louisville ESPN/ESPN3.com
9:30 p.m. NIT Season Tip-Off: Belmont at Tennessee ESPNU
10 p.m. South Carolina at Michigan St. ESPN/ESPN3.com
11 p.m. CBE Classic: San Diego State vs. Gonzaga ESPN3/ESPN3.com
11:30 p.m. NIT Season Tip-Off: Nevada or Pacific at UCLA ESPNU
TBD St. Joseph’s at Penn St. ESPN3.com
TBD North Dakota at Wisconsin ESPN3.com

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.