If Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman and Athletic Director Bill Martin were hoping for positive feedback for the report that they filed with the NCAA concerning the men’s basketball team relationship with Ed Martin, they need look no further than the University’s former Athletic Director Don Canham.
“I think what they did was exactly right and exactly what they had to do,” Canham said. “I really don’t know what the hell the NCAA Infractions Committee could do in addition.”
Canham also offered his support for another former athletic director at the University, Tom Goss, who was chastised heavily while he held the post – it was a reign that lasted from just 1997-2000.
“Tom Goss fired (Steve) Fisher right away, which was a good move,” said Canham of the former athletic director “People were in such an uproar over that, they wanted to fire Goss and rehire Fisher – he got off on the wrong foot, which was unfortunate because he was a good A.D. Starting with Goss, the University did exactly the right things.”
While Canham refused to place any of the blame for the Martin scandal on Goss, he did not have as positive of a feeling about Fisher, the coach of the basketball team during the majority of the time when the Martin issues took place.
“Anyone who looks at the violations probably understands that this is the worst violation in the history of college basketball,” Canham said. “What Fisher has done to the basketball program and the University because he’s incompetent is beyond belief. I don’t think he cheated, but he’s incompetent – it’s a shame to see such a great basketball program ruined by incompetence.
“Fisher had to know. When you have 10 guys driving around in $50,000 automobiles, you have to know that they don’t all come from home.”
The athletic director position was given to Canham in 1968, and he said he was involved with the NCAA Infractions Committee. Canham’s belief was that Michigan had punished itself more than was to be expected, and the Infractions Committee would agree.
“The one thing I found on Infractions Committees is that they are very fair – they could put on longer probation or take away scholarships, but I think they’ll say Michigan did the right thing.”
While he did believe that all the right steps had been taken by the people in charge beginning with Goss and continuing through Coleman and Martin’s actions yesterday, Canham also stressed one suggestion for making sure the program’s problems will not be repeated.
“I think you need a faculty board in control of athletics,” Canham said. “We had it from 1918 until (Bo) Schembechler left the A.D. job in 1990, and we never had a problem; that was done away with by (former University presidents) James Duderstadt and Lee Bollinger. So then we have presidential control and you get the biggest violation in our history.”
Despite his frustration with the change in the faculty board policy and Fisher’s leadership, Canham continued to reiterate how pleased he was with the way the sanctions against the basketball team and the report sent to the NCAA was handled by Coleman, Martin and basketball coach Tommy Amaker.
“Michigan has suffered and Tom Amaker has been penalized beyond belief,” Canham said. “It was more than I thought that they’d do, and I think the Infractions Committee will see it that way – everyone involved has done a great job.”