By Greg Garno, Daily Sports Writer
Published May 8, 2013
One of the most infamous moments in the history of Michigan athletics has now passed.
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After 10 years of an NCAA-mandated disassociation period, the University can renew its relationship with four of its former basketball stars: Chris Webber, Maurice Taylor, Louis Bullock and the late Robert Traylor.
Following a federal investigation into now-deceased booster Ed Martin that found he had given more than money to the former student-athletes, Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman initiated the ban.
Martin’s name arose after Taylor was in a car accident on Feb. 17, 1996, in which he was carrying recruit, Mateen Cleaves and other teammates on a trip back from Detroit. Cleaves later signed with Michigan State, ultimately winning a national title.
Martin, who died in February 2003 while Michigan officials met with the NCAA infractions committee, originally testified that he paid Webber, Traylor, Taylor and Bullock $616,000.
Coleman and the school vacated Webber’s sophomore season, as well as its Final Four appearance during his freshman year. The 1992 and 1993 Final Four banners were also removed from Crisler Arena as a result of the sanctions.
The banners currently rest in the Bentley Historical Library, but nothing indicates they will return to Crisler.
“We own the wrongdoing and we own the responsibility,” Coleman said in 2003.
As of 12:01 this morning, the players have the option of opening up a relationship with the university, though none have commented on the matter yet.
“I've never met any of those guys and I am looking forward to meeting them,” said Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon in an interview with The Associated Press late Tuesday night. “If any of those guys are interested in meeting with me, that would be great.”
Traylor passed away in 2011. He was found dead in his apartment in San Juan, Puerto Rico where he was playing basketball professionally at the time.
As a result of “one of the most egregious violations of NCAA laws in the history of the organization," according to the NCAA a decade ago, the Wolverines imposed a one-year ban on postseason play, lost scholarships and were put on probation.
“I didn't do anything, so I don't feel sorry for them,” Webber said in 2003 while playing with the Sacramento Kings.
Michigan has since finished runner-up to Louisville in the 2013 National Championship under coach John Beilein. The members of the Fab Five — ESPN analyst Jalen Rose, Miami heat forward Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson and Jimmy King — were all in attendance at the game. Webber was also present, but looked on from a suite in the Georgia Dome.
For now, Brandon and the Michigan community will wait to seeif the relationships are restored, just like they have for an entire decade.
“I wasn't around when all of this happened,” Brandon said. “I've never had an opportunity to interact with them to talk about anything and I am hopeful that opportunity will present itself.”
Unlike the banners that rest in the library, the question of how the University and the Fab Five will handle the end of the dissociation period still remains floating in the rafters.