Michigan Bball vs NCAA: A Trilogy

Michigan Bball vs NCAA: A Trilogy

Submitted by AC1997 on February 27th, 2018 at 9:43 AM

As the current NCAA scandal unfolds and we hear more and more players, coaches, and schools accused of violating the NCAA rulebook we are inundated with thoughts from fans and media about what should be done.  A common refrain among ESPN experts and fans of implicated schools is speculation about the reform they hope is coming for the fool-hearted NCAA vision of amateurism.  While you can count me among those hoping that some smart people come up with a new system when the dust settles, that’s not what I want to hear right now.  Right now I want the NCAA to show no mercy and mount some skulls on their wall. 

Where does that harsh take come from?  Simply put – Michigan has crossed swords with the NCAA three times since I started rooting for the basketball team and in all three cases the punishment was slow, painful, and excessive.  I don’t like hearing that Miles Bridges can pull two twenties out of his pocket and avoid missing any games after what the NCAA has previously done to Michigan.  Since I realize that many readers of this site are too young to remember the trilogy of NCAA wars, allow me to recap.  Much like the original Star Wars Trilogy, the most meaningful story is the middle episode. 

**Note - despite my efforts, this story is a long one to tell.  I've placed links throughout and created a TL:DR summary at the end if you want to skip to it**


Episode I:  A New Hope….the Fab Five

Many fans are familiar with the saga of the Fab Five and the ensuing fallout thanks to the wonderful 30-for-30 documentary.  In a nutshell, it was discovered that Ed Martin had been laundering money from his racketeering ring through a variety of college and high school basketball players – many of whom attended Michigan.  He wasn’t influencing which schools the kids went to really, but he was definitely providing them benefits without being a parent or guardian – an NCAA violation.  When the dust settled Michigan was penalized by the NCAA as follows:

  • Fired coach Steve Fisher
  • Banned from post-season for 2-years
  • NCAA Probation for 4-years
  • Loss of a scholarship for 4-years
  • Vacated all or part of 5-seasons of victories
  • Removal of 4 banners from the rafters

Michigan deserved to be punished for what happened, as do the schools revealed this past week.  But keep the severity of that punishment in mind when you compare it to what other schools are going to get (or in the case of Louisville, already got).  Did I mention that it took the NCAA a whopping SIX YEARS to complete the investigation?


Episode II:  The Empire (NCAA) Strikes Back

The sequel to the Fab Five story is probably more relevant to the situation we’re seeing unfold right now.  It is the story of Jamal Crawford and his ill-fated attempt to return Michigan to basketball relevance.  This story is lesser-known in the annuals of Michigan history and the younger readers of this site might not remember it. 

The story unfolded in the 1999-2000 season.  Believe it or not, Michigan had not yet received the full punishment from the NCAA for the Fab Five investigation – that was still on-going long after they had left.  But the stain left on the program was clear and Michigan’s reputation had already been tarnished.  The last of the players caught up in the scandal (Louis Bullock) had left and Brian Ellerbe (an atrocious coaching hire) was trying to pick up the pieces.  He signed a recruit named Jamal Crawford for the '99-'00 season, who you could easily argue has had as good of an NBA career as any former Michigan player. 

Michigan started that season 12-3 with eyes on making noise again in the post season.  Then questions started swirling about Crawford’s standing with the NCAA.  The NCAA took exception to the fact that Crawford lived with a family friend for his last three years of high school in Seattle.  His side of the story was that he had to get away from a bad situation where he was raised and this family friend offered to take him in and care for him.  However, since the friend was neither family or a legal guardian, the NCAA ruled that everything he provided for Crawford (food, clothing, car, etc.) was impermissible under their rules.  Crawford was suspended 6 games and ordered to pay $11,500 to charity in order to regain eligibility. 

On top of that punishment, the NCAA then rubbed salt in the wound.  The day Crawford was to return from suspension was against MSU with Michigan’s season starting to unravel without their star player.  About 30 minutes before the game it was ruled that Crawford was still being investigated and could not play.  This time the NCAA was reviewing the fact that Crawford had submitted his name to the NBA Draft as a high school senior – something that was not allowed at the time without loss of eligibility.  The NCAA suspended him for another 8 games, which included the end of the season.  Michigan finished the year with a record of 15-14 after that 12-3 start. 

More astounding than anything was the fact that the NBA never even acknowledged that Crawford submitted his name because he did so after their deadline and had already sent a retraction letter even though they never accepted his initial request.  All of this happened even before he committed to Michigan.  So let’s recap the NCAA punishment again…  For receiving living care and expenses on the order of $15,000 and submitting his name for NBA draft evaluation, Crawford was punished as follows:

  • Suspended 14-games combined
  • Ordered to pay $11,500 to charity

In fact, at the time the NCAA was on a run of suspensions and here is a good piece summarizing the punishments to other players.  A few examples from this era:

  • Kareem Rush (Missouri) – 9 games for getting money from his AAU coach
  • JaRon Rush (UCLA) – 9 games for $6525 from an AAU coach
  • Andre Williams (OK St) – 5 games for having his $20k prep school tuition paid for from a foundation that supported inner city youths
  • Chris Porter (Aub) – Suspended indefinitely for taking $2500 from an agent to prevent his mom from being evicted

When you read these suspensions you feel like the NCAA already has a nice blueprint for how to punish the recent names that came out in the Yahoo report.  I acknowledge that the ledger evidence does not directly imply those players accepted the money, but historically the NCAA has been inclined to “sit first, suspend later” while they investigate.  A former compliance officer was on ESPN radio this morning and was equally surprised these schools weren’t sitting players preemptively. 


Episode III:  The Return of the Jedi (NCAA)

The third installment is the least relevant but does serve to highlight some hypocrisy from the NCAA.  In 2014 Michigan was again near the top of the NCAA mountain after making the title game the year before and having the cleanest coach in the sport.  Michigan fell short of the final that year in part because their star center Mitch McGary had a back injury that forced him to cut short his season.  While in street clothes and unable to play during the NCAA tournament McGary tested positive for marijuana.  Here’s where the insanity of the NCAA takes over.

Had McGary tested positive during the regular season, his punishment would have been left up to the school and the Big Ten.  Similar offenses yielded small suspensions in recent years on the order of a game or two.  Yet because he tested positive during the tournament – when he wasn’t even dressed for the games – he was given a FULL YEAR suspension.  That’s right, the NCAA rule would have punished him more than just about any other transgression you’ll find in an hour of google searching. 


TL:DR Summary

To sum it up, Michigan ran afoul of the NCAA rules (however archaic they may be) on three occasions since I stepped food on campus.  The results of those three clashes with the NCAA were countless vacated wins, loss of banners, embarrassment, firing of coaches, lost seasons, years of scuffling as a program, etc.  Worst of all, the NCAA forced two of Michigan’s most iconic players (Jamal Crawford and Mitch McGary) to leave school earlier than they may have otherwise because of how extreme the punishments were they received. 

So tell me NCAA, when will the players and schools from this recent Yahoo story get the same treatment?  

Nike unveils the Jordan V 'Fab Five'

Nike unveils the Jordan V 'Fab Five'

Submitted by Yung Geezer on May 3rd, 2017 at 4:08 PM

Since WDD has driven Wolverine Devotee away from the blog for the time being, I am feeling compelled to enlighten all of you on the newest Jordan shoe release, the Jordan V 'Fab Five'

LINK: http://www.mlive.com/wolverines/index.ssf/2017/05/nike_unveils_a_nod_to_michigan_1.html

Cool Story, Bro! Just saw Juwan Howard

Cool Story, Bro! Just saw Juwan Howard

Submitted by Brown Bear on August 27th, 2016 at 6:00 PM
Was just heading to Lone Wolf(bar) on Randolph street here in Chicago and who do I see waiting out front of the famously long wait Au Cheval? Our very own Mr. Juwan Howard. He was wearing Michigan basketball shorts and some M themed Jumpman shoes I believe. Maybe he just worked out and needed that famous Au Cheval burger for post workout fuel. Anyhow. No photo. Just shouted Go Blue! and he happily returned it back. Made my day, one of my childhood idols. Also might be slightly drunk. Cool story bro. I know. This thread is dedicated to Magnus and Mr. Yost. May one of you or both be unhappy with it.

Jalen Rose: "[UM does not] have a family-type atmosphere"

Jalen Rose: "[UM does not] have a family-type atmosphere"

Submitted by MGoBender on January 24th, 2014 at 5:35 PM

Submitted without commentary, Jalen Rose knocked UM for their treatment of former players:

“Every Michigan coach has left unceremoniously, even the greatest coach in the University of Michigan history, the only coach that’s taken the school to three Final Fours and well as won a national championship, Steve Fisher, and also the Fab Five – Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson, Jimmy King – who played in two Final Fours and national championship games, two of the seven that the university has had since the 1900s,” Rose continued, his voice rising.

“So when you’re not able to have a family-type atmosphere where everybody feels welcome and feels like their contribution to the school is noted from a basketball and or football perspective, the relationships become fractured, and that’s something Michigan has to improve on. Michigan State, when you watch their games, it could be a guy that averaged two points, but the fans are going to celebrate him and treat him like he’s family. That’s why Michigan has lagged behind Michigan State in basketball, and frankly, right now, that’s why Michigan State has evened the playing field.”


Fab Five and Bad Boy videos / streams / downloads ?

Fab Five and Bad Boy videos / streams / downloads ?

Submitted by buddhafrog on June 26th, 2013 at 3:30 AM

I'm hoping my fellow MGoBloggers might be able to help me out:

I have a 12 year old son who has become a huge basketball fan this past year.  He plays PG for a city basketball team where we live in Ulsan, South Korea (안녕하세요).  This is my proud-father opportunity to mention that he was tournament MVP for the last two tournaments.

I coach his team, and we spend a lot of time talking basketball.  It has developed into one of those marvelous father-child opportunities that parents cherish.  It's been fun introducing him to the basketball of my youth - 1989 Championship, Fab Five, and the Bad Boys.  

He is especially interested in the Fab Five (having seen the doc and having read the Mitch Album book) and the Bad Boys.  I have searched tirelessly for downloads of games for either team but can't find anything that is current and being seeded.  Is there a specialized but less publicized place to find older sports downloads?

Does anyone know where I can download or watch any Fab Five or Bad Boy games?  I would be very appreciative and you'd make my Trey-Burke-uniform-wearing-Michigander-boy-in-Korea very happy and connected to his home.


EDIT: and for discussion purposes, which games do you think would be the best and most essential viewing?  

Fab Five - it is painful just thinking about the finals loss to Duke and NC.  This game is the only game that we could find, via YouTube and extra low-quality.  The 92-93 Kentucky game was classic.  Which Fab Five victory do you think would be essential viewing?

Bad Boys - really the greatest era of the NBA.  Clashes between Bird's Celtics, Barkley's 76'ers, Magic's Lakers, and that one guy named Jordan.  Many classic series.  I'm trying to find the 1988 Pistons loss to the Lakers in game 6 of the finals - the phantom foul game.  I believe that was one of the classic NBA serices, with the Pistons losing in 7 games.  Argh.  But the next two championships sort of eases that pain.  I'm also trying to find one gave vs. the Bulls (1990), Celtics (1988), and the finals vs. the Trailblazers (1990).  

1993: Bill Clinton's Letter to Chris Webber

1993: Bill Clinton's Letter to Chris Webber

Submitted by Marley Nowell on April 9th, 2013 at 3:24 PM

Very thoughtful letter that I feel resonates with the team's situation today.



I have been thinking of you a lot since I sat glued to the TV during the championship game. I know that there may be nothing I or anyone else can say to ease the pain and disappointment of what happened. Still, for whatever it's worth, you, and your team, were terrific. And part of playing for high stakes under great pressure is the constant risk of mental error. I know. I have lost two political races and made countless mistakes over the last twenty years. What matters is the intensity, integrity, and courage you bring to the effort. That is certainly what you have done. You can always regret what occurred but don't let it get you down or take away the satisfaction of what you have accomplished. You have a great future. Hang in there.
Sincerely, Bill Clinton




An Open Letter to Chris Webber

An Open Letter to Chris Webber

Submitted by Michigan Eaglet on April 4th, 2013 at 12:43 AM

I know this is a polarizing topic to many within this fanbase, but I came across this letter written by a professor at Michigan titled "An Open Letter to Chris Webber: You are loved."

In it he discusses a possible way for him to reconcile with the past and his influence on the freshman currently on the roster. He actually teaches a class with all five of the freshman in it so he has some real perspective on the topic. I know many people have their minds made up on the issue of whether or not the Fab Five should be honored, but in light of the Final Four this weekend, I thought it might foster a good discussion on the board about taking a realistic approach on how to deal with the past properly. If you don't think Chris Webber should ever be allowed on campus, you're entitled to that opinion, but the ban ends in May and sooner or later something will probably happen involving the Fab Five, and Chris Webber will probably be one of the main driving forces behind how good or bad the results end up being for him, the Fab Five and the university as well.

First good joke of the day - "Michigan's Final Four berth stymied"

First good joke of the day - "Michigan's Final Four berth stymied"

Submitted by DubbaEwwTeeEff on April 1st, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Found a gem this morning from one of Wisconsin's student newspapers:


From TFA:

However, there was a shocking development while the Wolverines were in the process of cutting down the nets at Cowboys Stadium. NCAA President Mark Emmert informed Beilein and his team their win against the Gators would be vacated due to the recent findings of improper benefits given to several players, including All-American sophomore guard Trey Burke.

According to a source inside the locker room, when Beilein asked Emmert who was responsible for turning the Wolverines into NCAA authorities, Emmert said it was none other than Fab Five members Juwan Howard, Jalen Rose and Chris Webber.

And then later:

“We’re the original Fab Five, and nobody will ever duplicate what we had in Ann Arbor,” Webber said, pausing to take a swig of his brown-bag-wrapped bottle of whiskey.

Well played, Daily Cardinal.