The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions banned the University’s Men’s basketball team from next year’s postseason Thursday for NCAA bylaw violations that date back to the early ’90s Fab Five era. The committee also ruled that the program will be placed on probation until November 2006 and lose one of its 13 scholarships each year for four seasons starting in the 2004-05 academic year.
“In total, this is one of the three or four most egregious violations of NCAA bylaws in the history of the association,” Committee Chair Thomas Yeager said. “The Committee on Infractions cannot shirk its responsibility to the entire membership by failing to apply meaningful and appropriate sanctions against the University in order to protect the postseason opportunities of current, and as we acknowledge, uninvolved student-athletes.”
Michigan’s violations involved four former Wolverines – Chris Webber, Maurice Taylor, Robert Traylor, and Louis Bullock – who altogether received payments of over $616,000 from now-deceased booster Ed Martin. One more stipulation in Michigan’s punishment will be to completely disassociate itself from these four players for the next 10 years.
Last November, the University self-imposed many penalties that went into affect in the 2002-03 season. Besides banning itself from any 2003 postseason play, Michigan basically erased any existence of the four aforementioned players by forfeiting 112 regular season and tournament games, removing four banners from Crisler Arena and eliminating all records of the quartet in any printed materials. Also, Michigan returned the $450,000 earned from postseason appearances in the ’90s.
“Although the self-imposed penalties are significant and appropriate, as mitigated for the institution’s cooperation and efforts to uncover the facts, as well as the time factor of the time of the violation, the committee concluded that additional penalties are warranted,” Yeager said.
University President Mary Sue Coleman admitted that the basketball program deserves additional punishment by the NCAA, but not in the form of another year of postseason ban. She says that the University will “completely accept” the probation, loss of scholarships and disassociation aspects, but intends to appeal the postseason sanction.
“We’ve always excepted responsibility for the concerns raised by the NCAA and by the Infractions Committee that are displayed in this report,” Coleman said. “We own the wrongdoing, and we own the responsibility.
“However, I have to tell you that I am disappointed that the committee’s actions will have the effect of punishing our current, uninvolved student-athletes with this additional one year ban from postseason play.”
If the appeal fails, the 2003-04 season will be Michigan’s second-straight campaign with a postseason ban. But, according to sophomore point guard Daniel Horton, the team remains optimistic, and no one has any intentions to leave the program.
“Everybody’s coming back (for next season),” Horton said. “I look at (the possible postseason ban) as another challenge. We can show tremendous character if we are able to overcome this and still have a great season.
“They can take away the postseason, they can take away a lot of other things, but they can’t take away our pride, and playing for this team and this University.”
In July, Webber will be on trial for obstruction of justice and lying to a federal grand jury about his relationship with Martin.