Detroit Country Day, the elite private
high school where former University student Chris Webber played
basketball, has refused to forfeit its three state championship
basketball titles. This is despite the fact that the Michigan High
School Athletic Association, the governing body for high school
athletics, declared Webber ineligible due to his former involvement
with booster Ed Martin. DCD claims that the charges are unproven,
and it therefore feels no obligation to forfeit the titles. Detroit
Murray-Wright, the school where Webber’s former Michigan
teammate Robert Traylor played high school basketball, recently
forfeited every game won during Traylor’s senior season. DCD
should recognize the message that its position conveys and follow
suit by forfeiting its titles.

Laura Wong

Webber, who currently plays for the NBA’s Sacramento
Kings, was instrumental in leading the University’s
men’s basketball team to the Final Four in 1992 and 1993.
Following a car accident involving five University basketball
players in 1996, it was uncovered that Martin, who died last year,
was providing players with money and benefits. According to Martin,
he gave $616,000 in illicit benefits to Webber and teammates Robert
Traylor, Maurice Taylor and Louis Bullock. Webber and his family
alone reportedly received $280,000 in benefits from 1988-1993, a
period that extended from his freshman year of high school through
his sophomore season at the University.

As a result, the University imposed sanctions on itself,
including a one-year postseason ban and the forfeiture of 112
regular-season and tournament victories from five seasons. The
University also removed four banners from Crisler Arena and agreed
to cease mentioning of those performances from all written
materials. Although all sanctions have since been lifted, this
event cast a large shadow over the University’s sports
program.

The MHSAA handed down a ruling that allowed DCD and
Murray-Wright to choose whether or not to forfeit the games in
which Webber or Traylor played. DCD has publicly stated it it will
not forfeit its championships, arguing that it finds insufficient
evidence against Webber. But Murray-Wright, where Traylor played,
voluntarily forfeited all games that Traylor played while
supposedly receiving benefits from Martin. DCD needs to do the
same, as its present stance, a clear attempt to save face, sends a
negative message to students. In deciding to keep its titles, DCD
is telling its students that cheating and dishonesty are condoned
if the end results are worthwhile. A decision to forfeit the titles
would do no great harm to either the school or its reputation and
would provide a rare positive message to student athletes.

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