NCAA council may consider future sanctions

The Ed Martin scandal, which started seven years ago to the week, is inching toward its deathbed. But it will be at least six to eight weeks before it finally breathes its last.

An eight-member team representing Michigan headed down to the Hyatt Regency hotel in Coral Gables, Fla. to meet before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions yesterday. The group will be there to answer questions regarding $616,000 in “extra benefit” payments made to four former Michigan players by Martin, a former basketball booster for the Wolverines.

The meeting starts this morning and is expected to last most of the day. Similar meetings have been known to last more than 10 hours, with detailed questions being directed toward the Michigan team and NCAA investigators.

The wheels were set in motion to bring this meeting about on the morning of Nov. 7, when Michigan released its response to the NCAA’s letter of inquiry and levied self-imposed sanctions on its basketball program. Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman called it “a day of great shame.”

The sanctions included a one-year postseason ban, two years of probation and the removal of championship banners from Crisler Arena. Michigan also returned approximately $450,000 that it received from postseason play during the time of the alleged payments.

Head coach Tommy Amaker said he hoped the NCAA won’t deliver further penalties.

“We wouldn’t have done them if we didn’t think it was right,” he said. “We feel we have done what is right, and that is what we are always going to do and that is what we are going to say.”

Steve Fisher and Brian Ellerbe both served terms as head coach during the time that the NCAA infractions occurred.

The NCAA’s Committee on Infractions can choose to deliver further sanctions on the basketball program or simply accept the University’s self-imposed penalties. The University expects to receive a response from the NCAA within six to eight weeks of tomorrow’s hearing.

“I was expecting to deal with this issue the very first week I came on the job, and three years later we are finally just about on the goalline,” Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin said. “That is why I am looking at (today) with such great anticipation. We can’t wait to put this behind us. It is up to our peers to judge us now.”

The NCAA Committee is composed of 10 people, and is chaired by Tom Yeager, commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Association. Seven of the members are from NCAA member institutions and three are from the general public.

Making the trip down to represent Michigan will be Coleman, Amaker, Bill Martin, University General Counsel Marvin Krislov, director of NCAA compliance Judie Van Horn, faculty representative Percy Bates, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and NCAA infractions expert, Mike Glazier of the Kansas City law firm of Bond, Schoeneck and King.

“I think it is important that President Coleman set the bar with respect to how important compliance with respect to NCAA rules are to Michigan,” Martin said. “She will set the tone for our overall presentation. She is a very experienced, and an incredible leader at a major institution, so she adds tremendous credibility.”

Glazier has been helping Michigan investigate the scandal from the very beginning. According to Michigan spokesman Bruce Madej, Glazier will be the primary respondent to questions directed at the University, but members of the committee can direct questions to any of the representatives.

University spokeswoman Julie Peterson said Michigan’s representatives are all thoroughly prepared to answer all of the committee’s questions and “intend on representing our side of the story.”

Although Amaker was an assistant coach at Duke when the first infractions took place at Michigan, he is looking forward to representing the current program, which would feel the force of any future sanctions.

After the meeting is called to order, the committee, Michigan’s representatives and NCAA enforcement staff will be introduced. Following the introductions, each representative from Michigan will have the opportunity to give a 15-minute opening statement.

The committee will then review each allegation separately. There is no time limit as to how much time can be spent on each allegation, and all parties can present any information that they feel is relevant to the case. After all of the allegations have been thoroughly exhausted, each party will have a chance to make a closing statement.

After the hearing, the committee will write an infractions report finalizing the punishment for Michigan. That report is expected to be released between March 27 and April 10.

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