Freshman Kyle Brown sifted through a newspaper in class yesterday morning, but he didn’t notice the front page until he walked out into the hall. When he and his roommate, freshman James McKenzie, finally saw the news that the Michigan basketball team was again eligible for the postseason, Brown began “freaking out.”
“I called my brother; I called my friend,” Brown said. “I was like, ‘I’ve got to talk to someone,’ because I was so excited.”
Last night, Brown and about 100 other Michigan basketball fans gathered at the Maize Rage mass meeting at Cliff Keen Arena. Before yesterday, none of them seemed to know this news was coming.
“You appeal, but you don’t really expect anything to come of it,” Michigan graduate student Paul Gromek said. “I was just resigned to the fact that there wasn’t really going to be any postseason this year.”
Many heard rumors about the appeal Wednesday night, but were afraid to get their hopes up. Senior Peter Lund, the group’s leader, got an email from a buddy about it, but was “skeptical.” It wasn’t until he saw the headlines the next day that he let the idea sink in.
Lund said that he expects more people to come out to basketball games now. The Maize Rage hopes to build a team of around 1,000 to cheer on the Wolverines this season. It would be the largest group of students the Ragers have ever had.
“I think being tournament-worthy (last year), in terms of our team’s record, and not being able to go was a frustrating experience,” said Lund, also known as Superfan IV. “It really makes you appreciate it, now that we are eligible.”
“We were going to cheer them on 100 percent, regardless, but it does give you a little more reward to look for in the end.”
Five Wolverines – captains Bernard Robinson and J.C. Mathis, sophomores Daniel Horton and Chris Hunter and redshirt freshman Amadou Ba – made an appearance at the meeting to show their appreciation to the Maize Rage.
And if the players do go dancing in March, many of the fans at the meeting last night pledged to join them.
“There is reason to believe this team can go to the national championship,” Lund told the crowd. “We haven’t had that for four or five years.”
The NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee decided to reverse the ruling on this year’s postseason ban. The appeal was granted after determining the “excessiveness” of a second-year ban.
– Though NCAA Bylaw 22.214.171.124 does not mandate the specific length of post-season bans, multi-year bans have been imposed in 29.4-percent of the cases.
– The factors which have lead to multi-year bans in the past include “repeat violator status, lack of institutional control, or academic fraud.” None of these stipulations are evident in this case.
– The committee concluded that Michigan did not receive a “staggering competitive advantage” because the student-athletes involved would have played for the school even if they hadn’t received loans. Before, Michigan had been likened to Alabama – which in 2002, had players found guilty of receiving gifts before and during their tenure at Alabama.
– The committee recognized the institution’s “cooperation” in identifying the athletes involved and loan amounts. The reversal of the second-year ban was partly based on these “extraordinary efforts”.