It’s official: The Michigan basketball team can dream to dance.
The NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee announced yesterday it has reversed the basketball team’s postseason ban for the upcoming season. The committee cited that a postseason ban in addition to the one-year ban the University self-imposed on itself in 2002-2003 was excessive.
“I really felt like (the appeals committee) understood the issues and distinctions and why it was different, and why we felt the original infractions committee had not really judged them,” said University President Mary Sue Coleman, who addresses the appeals committee in August.
The ruling is the official end to the NCAA’s investigation behind the program’s scandal in the early to mid-90s involving booster Ed Martin, who gave $616,000 and special benefits to former Michigan players Chris Webber, Maurice Taylor, Louis Bullock and Robert Traylor.
“With today’s announcement, this long and unpleasant chapter in the University history has ended once and for all,” Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin said. “We have learned some hard lessons from this experience, but we emerged from it with a stronger program and a renewed commitment to the highest standards of integrity.”
Prior to the 2002-2003 season, the University imposed penalties on itself after conducting its own investigation, including returning more than $400,000 in tournament revenue to the NCAA, forfeiting 112 games, placing itself on two years of probation and taking down Big 10 and NCAA Final Four championship banners in addition to the postseason ban.
But the NCAA imposed additional penalties in May after conducting its own investigation, including placing the program on probation until 2006, reducing one scholarship through the 2007-08 season, banning the four former players who received money from any relation with the program for 10 years and the additional postseason ban that was lifted yesterday.
The University then appealed the postseason ban declaring that the penalty was excessive because it would be punishing current players that had nothing to do with the scandal.
The NCAA states in its bylaws that precluding programs from postseason competition were for cases that “involved individuals remain active in the program, a significant competitive advantage results from the violations, or the violations reflect a lack of institutional control.” In its report, the Infractions Appeals Committee ruled that none of the three factors that are grounds for a postseason ban were present in Michigan’s case.
The committee that gave Michigan an additional postseason ban said that the money Ed Martin gave provided Michigan with “a staggering competitive advantage.” But the Appeals committee disagreed, saying that the four players would have played at Michigan regardless of the scandal.
The other penalties imposed by the NCAA are still intact.
Don Canham, University Athletic Director from 1968-1988, believed that the appeals committee made their decision because the violations were dealt with so well by Michigan head coach Tommy Amaker and the rest of the University. “(The committee has) always been extremely fair in my opinion,” Canham said.
The Wolverines finished with a 17-13 (10-6 Big 10) record last season and look to contend for an NCAA tournament bid this season.