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.


Darth Wolverine

April 4th, 2013 at 7:21 AM ^

I am so SICK of the Fab 5 talk. This is 2013...move on. As great as the Fab 5 were, they didn't win any type of championship (with the exception of the regional championships, which I don't really count as a title). The focus should be on this current team and not a bunch of dudes from twenty years ago.


April 4th, 2013 at 7:39 AM ^

I love the rest of the fab five, and would love to see them honored. I don't like Mason Weber (that's his real name). I would just as soon he kept pouting and didn't come back with the rest of them when they do.


April 4th, 2013 at 7:46 AM ^

Would love to see the Fab 5 sitting together at the games this weekend/Monday. He's been punished and a huge part of college basketball history. I would bet CBB is the most corrupt sport when it comes to paying players and UM got killed by the NCAA. If you don't think Calipari is paying players you're crazy.

Bring back the Fab 5 and CWebb and let's win this Ship.

M go Bru

April 4th, 2013 at 7:58 AM ^

Chris Webber laundered (took) $330,000 from a guy who ran an illegal numbers racket in the auto plants who was a basketball groupie, bitched that players should be paid or were entitled to the royalties that the fab five created, never apologized, never paid Ed Martin back the money he was "loaned". He did not grow up in poverty. He had a free ride to Country Day. Both his parents were teachers.

Are you proud of the Fab 5 wiping their butts on the logo on the center of MSU's Bball court? Are you proud of their legacy? I'm not. They underachieved.

Screwed the UM basketball program until the arrival of John Belein.

He was the only one of the Fab 5 to be on the take, but has selfishly stained their legacy.

He is the antithesis of a role model.

The other players on the take were all after the Fab 5 - Taylor, Traylor, and Bullick. Traylor was the only one to pay Ed Martin back.

I don't ever want him affiliated with Michigan Basketball again. I would never invite him back until he publically apologizes.


April 4th, 2013 at 9:21 AM ^

In the words of Rabbit in 8 Mile: "Ward, you're a little hard on the beaver...."

Like one of the posters above, I'm a class of 1995 UM grad, whose life happened to intersect with the FF a lot over my time there. Since they are in a sense a reflection of me and my class, I am likely biased and have a sub-conscious dog in this fight. With that being said:

I don't want to fisk your entire post (don't have the time), I would simply like to point out that I do think Webber can be a role model. In fact, that is what makes his story so ****** compelling to people. 

The Fab 5 never won a single title. They were counter-culture, even at a progressive place like Michigan. They were flawed, both on the court and off. Yet they had a bigger impact on college sports than any of the people whose numbers are displayed at Michigan Stadium or in the Crisler rafters. They were, and are role models for a generation of kids whether people like it or not. 

The question now is can Webber, the symbol of that class, reconcile with the fanbase, many of whom did not approve of their behavior on the court for many (some valid imo) reasons. Can he bring himself to acknowledge that his critics have point, that he owes Michigan more than jersey revenues now. Can he, in a metaphorical sense, rejoin the family that has loved/hated/been conflicted about him through contrition and maturity? If he can, then he can be just as powerful a role model as those who never made the kinds of mistakes he made. 




April 4th, 2013 at 8:17 AM ^

Dear Prof,

This is the most bizarre love letter I have ever read.  It appears that you have a strange obsession with Chris Webber.   You are a professor and should be teaching morals and values to these kids which appear to be lacking.  You say that it would mean the world to these kids if he came to the game.  Why would you allow this idea to perpetuate in your classroom?  What you are saying is that Webber is and should be a role model to these kids and that if their role model came that would be great.  Webber should not be thought as a role model and you should not be encouraging this idea.  The only thing this team has in common with Webber is they went to the same school, played basketball and won a lot of games.  The comparisons stop there, and that alone does not make him a role model.  He was selfish, only cared about getting money, broke the rules, didn't take responsibility for his actions, hasn't apologized, the lists goes on.  Is this the type of person you want your students to idolize?  Are you going to write an open letter to Lance Armstrong telling him to go watch the next best cyclist, or an open letter to Barry Bonds to watch a Michigan baseball game?  No, these guys were once at the top of their game, but in the game of life they fell to the bottom and so did Webber.   What you should be telling these kids is, it should mean the world to you if your parents, family, friends and people who have supported you all year come.  That is what should be important.  Not some guy who was good at basketball and banned from the University that you attend .   There are plenty of former Michigan basketball legends who are excellent role models that you could be asking to come, but it seems like your class is stuck in the early 90's.  Webber was and still should be banned until May.  Make him sit at home and watch them do something he could never do, win a championship.  And then, next year invite him to the banner raising ceremony, make him sit front row and have him look up and make him realize that this team did it the right way, won with class, was unselfish, was everything he wasn't and these banners will remind him that he will always have to look up to these fine young men.  Go Blue!


April 4th, 2013 at 8:32 AM ^

"Inspired by my lifelong love of the game and informed by my scholarly interests in the role that stories, particularly informal stories, play in shaping our daily lives at the individual and collective level"

Stories? Informal Stories? Give me a fucking break.

Sounds like the very definition of a ridiculous cake course to me, but since it's Michigan it's dressed up in all kinds of serious-sounding language. For an institution that is constantly beating its chest about its sterling academic reputation, it's laughable.

I know that Michigan is no different from most other big-time programs in this respect, but it just points out the hypocrisy of those UM fans who laugh at OSU for offering courses in football to its players.


April 4th, 2013 at 8:36 AM ^

The letter is almost completely uninteresting, barring the fact that he teaches five of the current freshmen.  Their view (and they apparently would like to see this) is important.

My take: Webber needs to apologize, the community needs to forgive.


April 4th, 2013 at 8:37 AM ^

I skimmed the responses.. but didn't see this said anywhere..  Is anybody outraged by a class called:

Cultures of Basketball

I thought stuff like this happened at OTHER schools.

His Dudeness

April 4th, 2013 at 8:39 AM ^

And the mythical "Michigan Man" meme again stands in the way of all reason.

You want to rip apart C-Webb because you think you are the better man and you think you would have made such a better choice when you were in college. You would have turned down that money and come back and played four years for the beloved University and won championships, but at the end of the day you are full of shit.

You know how I know this? What are you doing right now? Sitting at your desk, doing a job you don't want to do all the while missing  out on time with your family. And for what? Money.

You are a grown man and yet you still give your life for money. Chris was 18 years old. He didn't know any better then and none of you know any better now. So get off your pulpit. You would have done the same thing. Hell, you probably would do the same thing now.


April 4th, 2013 at 8:59 AM ^

I had a full time job and a family at the same age that Chris was when he entered the NBA draft. We have had MULTITUDES of athletes who have come through this University and not made the same error, some of them poorer than Chris.

Let's face it, Chris really wasn't that poor. He lived a TYPICAL college life. Prior to that he was pampered with a supplied private school education. All of this was made possible because he could put a ball in a cylinder. If anything maybe his issues was he expected to be pampered because of his talent and even felt entitled to it.

Me, on the other hand, I expect an 18 year old to act and behave like an adult. The main reason why many of them don't is they aren't trained and people are all to willing to make excuses for their poor behavior.

The starting five guys on the court this Saturday have not been known to take a bribe, I wonder if they have ever been offered one?

His Dudeness

April 4th, 2013 at 9:15 AM ^

It is a well known fact that the University made millions off of C-Webb and the other four.

In a strange way (if you can put your ego away and step into their shoes) maybe C-Webb did act like a man. "They are making millions off of me, maybe I should get some money too." Maybe he was mature beyond his years in making a business decision to take money that in many ways was money he had earned. I'm not saying Chris wa spoor, but that doesn't mean he had secured anything for himself yet. Had he broken his knee in that final game and not made a dime "putting a ball in a cylinder" nobody would have said anything other than "wow, what a shame."

Nobody in this world works for YEARS with the assumed future payment all the while not under contract for the future payment. The system is obviously broken and in my mind Chris didn't do anything "wrong." It may not have been moral. He may have let his drive for money get in the way of what was best for the University, but he had no allegiance to the Univeristy. All they were doing in his mind was raking in millions in jersey sales with his name on it.

As a wise man once stated "Shut up about yourself and get on with it. It will help you not make terrible mistakes because you are trying to preserve what people think about you in the face of what you really are."


April 4th, 2013 at 9:39 AM ^

Doesn't matter if they made 10's of millions or 10 dollars, you are just making another excuse. They came on promise of a full scholarship and all the offered benefits but nothing more. The football program makes the University far more than the basketball program and yet it remains clean. The only hint of a scandle in the past 100+ years is practices going over the alloted time. Are you saying that we need more football players taking unauthorized payments and making excuses?

I can put myself in Chris Webbers shoes. I did not have the opportunities that Chris had. I didn't have a private education. I didn't have a full ride to the University of Michigan. I had no promise of a multi-million dollar career. I never saw that as an excuse to break the law. You are arguing in favor of lawbreaking. I hope you are not doing so because Chris is an athlete.

Chris' punishment as handed down by the law is complete. I am not saying we should go after him again. However, the University is under no obligation to welcome him back. I think cooler heads will prevail if his actions demonstrate that he knew was wrong for taking the money. I am under the impression that he would not have to make such an apology public but defiance will get him nowhere.

I am telling you, do not make the same mistakes as Chris because if YOU go before a judge and make this similar piss poor excuse you will be punished in much harsher manner than Chris.


April 4th, 2013 at 11:16 AM ^

Right, Woodson get a tuxedo and some incidentals related to his trip to the Heisman ceremony paid for by an agent (Marion Jones/Summit Mgmt Group). Additional trips paid for by an agent  were taken over the summer of 97. The difference was that Michigan Football/A.D. folks were not implicated in knowing about it whereas Fisher was aware and actively trying to conceal the relationship with Ed Martin (and fraudulently tying it to Perry Watson by putting the tickets he left for Martin under Watson's name). So it was not deemed an NCAA violation because it was an agent rather than a booster and because Fisher was dirty but Carr wasn't. Strictly as far as the players though, it was pretty similar. Woodson also probably perjured himself by saying that he never took illegal benefits while at Michigan even though the paper trail indicates otherwise. But in that case he was testifying on behalf of the prosecution in regards to Summit Mgmt's financial problems/debts/fraud. It's fascinating the difference in the way that Webber and Woodson are perceived by M fans even though both took illegal benefits and probably perjured themselves.


April 4th, 2013 at 9:49 AM ^

The university making money off of athletes shouldn't come as a surprise to them.  If they are so outraged by it... guess what... no one is forcing them to play a game in exchange for a full scholarship, academic tutoring and benefits, free housing and food, and adoring fans.  Play in Europe if you're that outraged that a school makes money off of you playing a game.  I find it more outrageous that an undergrad or grad student might do research, that, you know, might actually benefit humanity in some way, and not be compensated completely. 



April 4th, 2013 at 11:42 AM ^

This point is how I have always felt. They get more academic support than an average undergrad. They have access to better facilities. Don't the athletes have access to their own specific nutritionist? I seem to recall pics if Pipkins' prepared meals over the summer. And think of this, there are numerous scholarship athletes who will play in college and never go anywhere beyond that athletically. Every scholarship player has access to the same resources. It's not just the "elite" athletes. If you want to pay athletes, do you set it up based on their perceived "worth?" Do you have agents negotiating deals for their star players? Yes certain players, AT EVERY SCHOOL, have a brighter athletic future, and the respective University may use them as a marketing focal point because of this. The norm is the best athletes are the most popular. As fans, if you're upset with athletes not getting paid because the University is selling their jersey, don't buy their jersey. Then the University isn't making the money off of them. And the athlete isn't "losing out."


April 4th, 2013 at 9:58 AM ^

Would Chris, Jimmy, Juwan, Ray, and Jalen all have attended Minnesota? Illinois? Purdue? MSU? Iowa? Vanderbilt? Texas? They all came to Michigan because Michigan was fresh off its national championship, which none of them had anything to do with. The anger over the University making millions off of #4 jerseys always conveniently ignores the fact that Chris Webber and the other four did not build the basketball program. They joined a program that was regarded as one of the hottest in the nation at the time with a legacy that predated them by many years. Chris Webber parlayed the fame and experience he acquired playing basketball for two seasons at Michigan into a professional career that enabled him to make more money than virtually none of us will see in our working lifetime.

The notion that we're supposed to feel outrage over his alleged mistreatment by UM is farcical. If Chris Webber attends Iowa, that program doesn't have the pull to also get the other players, which means he doesn't get to two championship games and his jersey is no big deal outside of Iowa City. Webber ought to be thankful for the opportunity he had at Michigan to build the foundation for a lucrative career. It's a two-way street, something he needs to openly acknowledge.


April 4th, 2013 at 10:02 AM ^

Some people actually do work for years with the assumed future payment all the while not under contract for the future payment - they are called Doctor's. And it is hard to say he didn't do anything wrong when he clearly agreed to a predefined set of rules and regulations and then flouted them. Whether you agree they should exist is another matter, agreeing to it and then breaking it is wrong. 

I'm ok with C-Webb being welcomed back if he apaolgizes for his mistakes....not sure how he will be able to do that without tripping over perjury issues but that is my hope. It looks like we may find out sooner rather than later.


April 4th, 2013 at 10:13 AM ^

So if the NCAA wants to setup a program that pays student atheletes like residents then let them. That wasn't the case with Webber.

I have no problems with compensating a player more when the rules are agreed upon.

The only potential issue that exists is a system much like the NBA where you enter in contracts and agents. I would definitely be against such a scenario. I love basketball but despise the NBA.


April 4th, 2013 at 10:33 AM ^


Comapring doctors and residency programs/higher education to college athletes is completely inalagous. The likeness and images of pre-med students and residents aren't being used to make millions for third parties all the while they're not getting a cut of the pie. I was merely responding to how poor of an analogy he used. 


April 4th, 2013 at 8:40 AM ^

I cannot believe the vitriol on here today, WOW. Attacking this professor. Its been 20 years guys, I was hurt and embarrassed also, but enough is enough.

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" 


April 4th, 2013 at 8:49 AM ^

On wanting Webber to return. The problem I have (outside of Ace's apparent willingness to let character slide in favor of talent on the court) is the man has NEVER expressed any remorse. We have a nation of people that are quick to forgive so that is not even an issue but Webber refuses to be a man and admit error.

I have heard EVERY excuse possible when it comes to Chris' actions but knowingly or unknowingly, he participated in a money laundering scheme and then perjured himself. Anyone not named Chris Webber would have served serious jail time for such poor judgment. He got off with a wrist slap.

I started becoming a Michigan fan when he and the rest of the Fab Five arrived in Ann Arbor but I have also had to endure the last 19 years as the program has climbed out of the abyss. If Chris is willing to apologize and recognize his judgment hurt the program and many people then I would love to see him at the game. If he continues to act like he did nothing wrong, I see a program that is now thriving without his name attached to it.


April 4th, 2013 at 9:00 AM ^

Unless he feels the desire to. You people can keep pretending you had no idea these guys got paid when they attended Michigan if you like, but anyone with common sense knew that was the case. What about football? There have been plenty stories about many of our beloved star players on the gridiron that recieved "extra" benefits. Webber was a kid and his parents took money, and as an adult he lied in a failed attempt to PROTECT THE UNIVERSITY!!!!!! Not himself. He had nothing to lose by admitting wrong doing a decade after leaving, but he risked going to jail to keep his school from going under. How many of YOU have contributed the amount of financial gain and world wide recognition to Michigan that Webber has? How many of you had the power to make your parents turn down hundreds of thousands of dollars? How many of you never made a mistake when you were 18-23 years olds? How many of you would risk your freedom to protect a university that used you 20 times more than you used it? Let it go people and stop screaming for an apology like the dude slept with your spouses. COME TO THE ATL C-WEBB and bring back the whole gang from Jalen Rose to Rob Pelinka.


April 4th, 2013 at 10:39 AM ^

I would be deeply disappointed if my son was judgmental, and had failed to learn to see the world as more than a black/white place after four years of college, where I'd hope that he's being exposed to literature, art, etc.. that teach us about the complex nature of humanity.   I'd be sad that he was such a shallow man.


April 4th, 2013 at 11:13 AM ^

Difference is (as far as we know) that they didn't take the impermissable benefits.  That makes them better men than Webber.

I'm not sure if I missed your point but it almost seems to hurt Webber.

And yes, if Michigan won the National Championship this year and it came out that McGary took 330,000 dollars and the banners were taken down, I would hold it against him.  And if he lied to protect a known criminal, I would hold it against him.  And if he refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing for twenty years, I would hold it against him.



April 4th, 2013 at 11:36 AM ^

But lets compare what Webber did to say...Frank Clark. 

I don't hear anybody booing when he steps out on the field.  I just googled "Frank Clark apologizes" and didn't get any relevant hits.  These are KIDS we are talking about in both cases...Is what Webber did worse?

I really don't think so.


April 4th, 2013 at 11:01 AM ^

There's a third side: those who don't expect people to serve a 25 year sentence for what they did.  We can understand behavior that was wrong.  After 20 years, we can forgive and move on.  

You must be a very shallow person to hold a grudge for so long against someone you've never met.  

I'd like to know what mistakes you made when you were 18 years old.  How would you feel, if 20 years later people you've never met still held a grudge against you, people who were never really affected by your mistake.  

How were any of us really affected by what Weber did?  We had to cheer for a crappy basketball team.  Okay.  That sucked.  It's over.  Forgive.  


April 4th, 2013 at 11:19 AM ^

I don't hold a grudge against Webber.  I just find it shocking that so many are quick to defend his cheating when he hasn't even acknowledged that he did anything wrong.  I was hoping Michigan Men would hold themselves to a higher standard, but apparently this is not the case, we too are just as likely as SEC to excuse athletes for their wrong doing in exchange for wins.  Let's not forget, that while it may appear petty to not "accept him back" after 20 years, it is far more offensive for Webber to not own up to his mistakes.  The guy should've served prison time for protecting a known criminal, he got lucky Martin died.

How can you forgive someone who won't acknowledge they did anything wrong?  That is a conundrum.



April 4th, 2013 at 9:33 AM ^

I really think it is okay to enjoy the Fab 5.  I mean, the University all but abandoned the program for a decade(Thanks Bill).  Other programs laugh at our self-inflicted wounds.

Look at our current opponent.  Jim Boeheim is one of the most respected coaches in college basketball.  Guess what: same thing that happened here in the early 90's happened there.

Hell, they're under a major investigation RIGHT NOW

We need to stop punishing ourselves for stuff that happened before our current team was born.  You got time for some light reading?


And Syracuse's program has been just fine, thank you.  Bottom line, Michigan basketball has done its time.  If putting a Chris Webber billboard on '75 is going to help recruiting, I'm all in.  Kids have done and will continue to do worse things than take money.  I'm all done trying to crucify him for it.


April 4th, 2013 at 9:34 AM ^

The crowd would go absolutely off the wall if the fab five shows up on the big screen on Saturday. No way I see webber going though


April 4th, 2013 at 10:02 AM ^

I don't have an extreme opinion either way -- Webber can either continue on like he has or apologize and be welcomed back, either is fine with me.

What does surprise me is that a tenured Michigan associate professor has this large of an obsession with our basketball team.  He created this course, blogs about it everyday, tweets the players and takes pictures with them, etc.  I don't know if he is fulfilling his department's and LSA's expectations by blogging, teaching, and publishing about basketball so much -- perhaps he is -- but I hope his fanaticism doesn't lead to inappropriate benefits (e.g. grades) for the basketball players.  Seems like he doesn't think it was a big deal when Webber took those benefits, so why would he think it's a problem here?