Yesterday morning, the Michigan men’s basketball program took a major step forward in resolving the Ed Martin scandal. To some, the suffering will begin this year when they see the championship banners taken down – an asterisk added to six seasons in which all wins will be taken away. But in fact, the Wolverines have been suffering ever since speculations began.
Opposing coaches would use the threat of sanctions to steer recruits away from Michigan and toward their school, resulting in a negative stigma around the Michigan program. But now, with the self-imposed sanctions, Michigan can move past the scandal.
Recruiting analysts feel that the self-imposed sanctions will not hurt Michigan’s recruiting efforts and that the future for Michigan coach Tommy Amaker is starting to clear up.
“Let’s say it does affect them, who cares,” HoopScoop analyst Clark Francis said. “They’ve already got (the players that) they need. If (the NCAA extends the postseason ban until) next year, then maybe it hurts them a little bit more. But I think they’re in great shape. I think they’re a year or two away from turning the corner and being a great team in college basketball.”
Despite this cloud hanging over the program, Amaker’s recruiting efforts have been very successful. In his first year as coach at Michigan, he brought in one McDonald’s All American – Daniel Horton – as well as several other nationally recognized talents to form what is considered to be one of the best freshman classes in the nation.
One of the fears that came with sanctions was that perspective recruits would void their verbal commitments. But Amaker said that he called his commitments for the 2003-04 season and reassured them that scholarships would still be available for them.
After Friday’s Wayne State exhibition, Romulus High School star and Michigan commitment Ronald Coleman met with Amaker to discuss the status of his scholarship and to reassure the coach that he still plans on attending Michigan. Even if the NCAA does lengthen Michigan’s postseason ban by a year, Coleman, who is set to enter Michigan for the 2004-05 season, will not be affected.
“Ron said that he’s going to Michigan,” Coleman’s coach Nathan Oates said. “The only thing he was concerned about was if they were put on probation and had no scholarships, but coach Amaker assured us that there would be a scholarship available for him.
“That’s where he’s going, and he’s pretty fired up that if (self-imposed penalties were) the only penalties. Obviously he’s disappointed for the current guys – but if this is it, which is what the coaching staff has told us, then he’s still coming to Michigan.”
Amaker’s other major recruit, Dion Harris of Detroit Redford, also assured the Wolverine coaching staff that he still had every intention of honoring his commitment to Michigan.
“The reputation of Michigan speaks for itself,” Harris’ coach Derrick McDowell said. “Amaker has spent a long time developing the relationship with Dion and this decision isn’t going to affect that. Dion grew up watching the Fab Five and was a big fan of theirs. I think that was a big part of his initial attraction to Michigan.”