Why were the banners taken down?

Submitted by cp4three2 on March 14th, 2011 at 12:29 AM

After watching the movie tonight, it seemed pretty obvious that there were no violations occurring while the Fab 5 were freshmen.  I asked around on Rivals and the best I could find was that Mary Sue Coleman ordered them down and the wins vacated, not the NCAA.  Why would she do that?


Albom seemed pretty convinced that Webber didn't get money until after his sophomore season had ended. Is there not a clear timeline to the events?



March 14th, 2011 at 12:36 AM ^

All the grand jury proceedings indicate that Webber started receiving money in high school, carrying through his college career. The same with Taylor, Traylor and Bullock. Just because Mitch Albom says a thing don't make it true.

On a side note, I'm a little startled how little some of the people on this board know about the Fab Five and its aftermath.


March 14th, 2011 at 1:01 AM ^

"However, it did not include all games that Webber played or was eligible because all but the final two games of his freshman year were retained"


They won the regional and a Final Four banner.  You get a Final Four banner for winning the Elite 8 round and winning your regional. 

Bando Calrissian

March 14th, 2011 at 1:54 AM ^

Technically, as far as both the NCAA and University investigations are concerned, Webber's eligibility was compromised during the Final Four in Minneapolis, thus everything from those two games through the end of the following Final Four were played with an ineligible player.  Thus, the vacating of the games, and the removal of the banners.   You can't have banners hanging that celebrate games and achievements you essentially forfeited.

Whether or not that actually reflects the timetable of the Webbers receiving benefits from Ed Martin...  I think we all know the answer to that question.

Section 1

March 14th, 2011 at 2:01 AM ^

quoted in the New York Times:

[the Michigan basketball case was] “one of the three or four most egregious violations of N.C.A.A. bylaws in the history of the association.” 


I personally have a bit of an issue with that characterization.  It was certainly not anything egregious on the part of the Michigan Athletic Department.  It was egregious behavior by Ed Martin, Chris Webber, and a small number of other players, and hangers-on.

Bando Calrissian

March 14th, 2011 at 2:07 AM ^

I don't know if you can give the Athletic Department a pass when Steve Fisher was forging ticket request forms to get Ed Martin in the building...

To excuse or deny the relationship Ed Martin had with both Bill Frieder and Steve Fisher is just revisionism.  Let's not pretend the Athletic Department was the pinnacle of management or oversight in that era, with all due respect to Jack Weidenbach, who had extensive experience in buildings and maintenence administration, not athletics.  


March 14th, 2011 at 2:22 AM ^

The head coach was in on the whole thing.  That makes the number of players involved or when they got paid much less relevant.  Martin was in the locker room.  He was at practice.  He stayed at the team hotel.  He had a reciprocal gift-giving relationship with Fisher.  He was in the room when coaches met with (multiple) recruits over an extended period of time.  The same guy gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to kids who were at or decided to come to Michigan.  The "Fisher didn't know about it" nonsense just doesn't fly.  If Martin was some rogue element, his level of access to the program makes zero sense.  The only reason to let the guy (a non-basketball player, non-alum, non-coach, non-donor, etc.) so close is because he delivered players. 

The equivalent would be if a guy who traveled with the OSU football team and stood on the sidelines during games (rather than some anonymous dude Tressel hears about in an email) then gave Pryor and his cohorts a few thousand free tattoos each at zero charge (rather than a few bucks/tats in exchange for merchandise). 


Section 1

March 14th, 2011 at 2:24 AM ^

Like I said, what Ed Martin did WAS "egregious."  Bill Freider was no saint.  And Steve Fisher learned from Frieder.

But while the Martin-to-player payments were astonishingly bad infractions, for which Michigan had to take responsibility, this was not like SMU football, with a school actually organizing the payments.  What Fisher did was on a par with what Tressel has done; he kept a blind eye; later was confronted with some ugly stuff/payment and favors information, tried to put a stop to it himself but failed to tell compliance.

Bando Calrissian

March 14th, 2011 at 2:47 AM ^

Well, of course not.  No one said it was SMU.  Yet the amounts of money we're talking here certainly fit within the profile of "egregious."  I don't know of any college coach who would be directly in the lives of five student-athletes who received a combined $600,000+ who wouldn't have suspected something was going on.  Especially when said coach has a personal relationship with the individual handing out the cash, and allows him access to the program.  So while the money was not coming from or being organized by the institution, to even imply the institution should be exempt of blame is a bit off the mark.  

Michigan, specifically Frieder and Fisher, gave Ed Martin a modicum of access that allowed him to continue to foster preexisting relationships with Detroit basketball players, and foster at least one new relationship with an athlete (Louis Bullock) who came from outside his established network.  Michigan's coaching staff should have never put Michigan in that position, and I think with a little more Athletic Department oversight, it would never have gotten that far.  That's all.

Section 1

March 14th, 2011 at 2:52 AM ^

to allow Ed Martin any access to the program or players who had signed to play at Michigan.

But Ed Martin was wholly behind the payments and there's never been any good evidence to suggest that Michigan coaches knew about them, or the extent of them.

Anyway, I think you've summed it up about as well as anyone on this board.


March 14th, 2011 at 8:00 AM ^

The fact that the coaching staff supposedly didn't know about Martin was the exact reason some of the violations were categorized as so egregious. The NCAA considered the payments and access so flagrant that a reasonable school is supposed to figure it out. That's why all the new NCAA cases accuse coaches of a lack of institutional control, because that's what the NCAA finds so integral to keeping these people out of programs.


March 14th, 2011 at 12:37 AM ^

I don't think they cared when he took money but rather that he took money at all and thus want to rid the school of any association with his accomplishments while there.


March 14th, 2011 at 12:41 AM ^

That and let's not forget Webber wasn't the only one taking money. He was the only member of the Fab Five found to have done so but there were 3 others found in the investigation.

Webber being tied to it all, even if you believe he didn't take anything until he left is reason enough for the school to distance itself from them.


March 14th, 2011 at 12:49 AM ^

If those banners were won legitimately, they belong in Crisler.  You don't take away championships just because something bad happened later.  That's absurd and seems like you're punishing the Fab 5 because they made the administration feel uneasy because of how they acted.  It's fairly obvious that the Fab 5 still makes some of the movers and shakers within the Michigan community nervous.


As for Webber getting money in high school, etc, why was't Jalen indicted in the NCAA investigation? 


March 14th, 2011 at 12:58 AM ^

The timing is important here.  If they're not getting money until after the season is over, they were eligible.  That's why Mitch's comments are so interesting to me.  I understand that someone else said Webber got it in high school, but someone close to the situation seems to think otherwise. 

Other Chris

March 14th, 2011 at 1:04 AM ^

Do you not think they explored all the possibilities before offering up the self-imposed sanctions? Do you really think that Michigan wanted to wipe away championships? Even *if* Mitch Albom is telling the truth this time (no, not like all the other made up stuff), Martin gave hotel rooms and stuff to Webber's family WHILE THEY WERE IN THE FINAL FOUR.  He at the very least was ineligible as a player.


Taking ANYTHING is a violation.  Free drinks for athletes is a violation.


March 14th, 2011 at 1:14 AM ^

I'm trying to figure out what happened.  As I posted in response to the scandal page.  If the benefits started at the Final Four their freshman year, as the investigation said, why was the regional championship taken down? 


You don't get a Final Four banner for playing in the Final Four, you get it for winning the regional.  It'd be like saying we would vacate a Big Ten title if our first ineligible player played in the Rose Bowl.  Those banners mean a lot to a lot of people, the first one, according to the investigation that's been pointed out to me on this thread (hence me initially asking), was won legitimately. 


March 14th, 2011 at 12:56 AM ^

Woah, easy. That's what part of the reasoning is for the school, I'm not necessarily saying I condone it.

Not trying to play devil's advocate here but there's nothing wrong with a school proactively taking measures to clean up the image of its program and preemptively punish itself for mistakes made. Haven't we spent the last week admonishing OSU for not doing that, basically slapping Tressel on the wrist when he withheld knowledge that his guys were getting benefits?

Like I said, I don't have a strong opinion on this and don't want to get dragged in to an argument about it. I think the banners should be up (and probably will be eventually) but I understand the school's decision to take them down. Webber was found to have taken cash. That made him ineligible. We were fielding an ineligible player. It sucks but...


March 14th, 2011 at 1:21 AM ^

Not playing in them.  It's exactly like vacating a bowl win but not the season that produced the bowl.  The Final Four banner is a banner for winning the regional.  This isn't semantics.  You get a Final Four banner for winning 4 in the tournament, which we did legitimately. 


March 14th, 2011 at 1:10 AM ^

We didn't vacate that season, no, but the university dissociated itself from Martin and all 4 players involved with him. If you read the opening to that wikipedia article, that was mandated by the NCAA until 2012. Webber took part in that season, so the banner comes down, even if he was eligible at the time.


March 14th, 2011 at 1:37 AM ^

This explains why you said you think they'll eventually be put back up.  I was 8 when the Fab 5 played, so I didn't know the nitty gritty of the investigation when it happened in high school.  I knew that it was a little controversial and was hoping for people who were older and remembered (and understood it better) could contextualize it a little more.  It seems pretty clear that the first banner probably belongs in Crisler and the second does not.  Thanks.

M Fanfare

March 14th, 2011 at 2:03 AM ^

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but don't the two banners that sit in the Bentley read "NCAA Finalist" with the respective year? In that case, each banner represents the team having won their Final Four game and played in the championship game--in the case of 1992, the two games that were vacated from that season. They are different from the other banners in Crisler which read "NCAA Final Four" for 1964, 1965 and 1976 (the '76 banner may say "finalist" but I know the other two don't).

Bando Calrissian

March 14th, 2011 at 3:39 AM ^

There are banners that say NCAA Final Four for 1964, 1965, 1976, and 1989.  They've redone all of the banners in Crisler since the 1992 and 1993 banners were taken down, so they're a different design.  The banners in the Bentley both say NCAA Finalist.

Incidentally, the term Final Four wasn't even coined until the 70's, and wasn't used by the NCAA as a branding tool until the 80's, as I recall.


March 14th, 2011 at 2:59 PM ^

Michigan made the title game in 1965, too.  Although we are 1-4 all-time in the title game, we lost to 3 of the greatest teams of all time in 4 of those losses: UCLA '65, Indiana '76, and Duke '92.

The '93 UNC team was no slouch, either.  The documentary did not mention that UM beat UNC earlier in the 1992-1993 season in a very close game in the semifinals of a holiday tournament (Webber made a ridiculous play near the end to win the game).  Then UM destroyed Kansas in the final of that tournament.  I have not been able to find a copy of that game on the internet.  It's worth another watch if someone can locate it.

Another point not noted in the documentary: Indiana was probably the best team in 1993.  Alan Henderson got hurt right before the tournament, which is the only reason why Kansas was able to beat IU in the Elite Eight.  Otherwise, all four 1 seeds would have advanced to the 1993 Final Four.  Part of the reason UNC beat UM in the Final was because UNC's Final Four game against Kansas was much less draining than our overtime win over Kentucky.  I attended that entire Final Four (class of '93), and my recollection is that UNC was in total control of that semifinal game, whereas the UM-UK game was a dogfight.  In the lead up to the Final Four, all the pundits were predicting Kentucky to beat Michigan - with many predicting a convincing UK win.  Partying on Bourbon Street after that win over UK is one of my two best Michigan sports memories - #1 being celebrating in Pasadena after the 1998 Rose Bowl win.


March 14th, 2011 at 2:02 AM ^

that the banners should be up.  The whole idea of trying to rewrite record books seems absurd, dishonest and immoral.  The players' accomplishments are legitimate athletic achievements without any actual cheating in the game itself.

Moreover, the entire issue was mishandled by the school and the NCAA in my opinion - players and coaches who were uninvolved in any rule breaking were the ones punished with sanctions.  I think it's fair to question the entire ethics of a system which punishes some for the rule breaking by others.  It is also actually impossible for a coach or school to prevent an athlete from taking a gift from a private individual - it's not actually illegal for pete's sake.  In fact, unless the athlete is flaunting his/her wealth, there may be no obvious clues.  So it's fair to question the practicality or ethics of current NCAA rules.  Given the above, the ultimate punishment suffered by the Michigan basketball program seems absurdly excessive or entirely improper.

That being said, I do believe that taking money showed a significant weakness of character - greed, selfishness and a lack of concern for how it might harm others.  So Webber should apologize to his teammates and the university.  But there should also be a serious reform of current NCAA rules.

Another example which showed the need for serious NCAA reform was the Jamal Crawford case - that was insane. 


March 14th, 2011 at 1:40 PM ^

We vacated the Final Four games, not the entire tournament.  Cam Newton was most likely ineligible for both the National Title Game and the season as a whole.  I'm talking about when they were freshmen.  They won their regional with all the team eligible.  Auburn most likely did not do that.


March 14th, 2011 at 7:42 AM ^

They can take the banners and vacate the wins but they can't take away the memories. This group of Michigan players will be remembered as legends and now are immortalized in film. Jalen sums it up the best in the end, who won didn't matter. The Fab5 were the first to be the pioneers of the hip hop revolution in basketball.

I believe their individual personalities were able to shine through because they derived confidence from one another. By yourself you can easily be told to dial it down but together they could be themselves on the court with no fear. Looking back on it I think that is what I enjoyed the most about them, the pure raw genuine emotion that they played with.

Thanks ESPN for taking me back to my middle school days

Other Chris

March 14th, 2011 at 12:53 AM ^

Which doesn't mean that Mean Old Mary Sue took away all the boys' nice toys. The University proposed vacating the seasons (and thus the games that won the banners) and gave up post-season consideration and suggested two years probation.  The NCAA doubled all that, iirc and slapped on scholarship reductions.

You go with the obvious and least damaging things first and hope it's enough. That's why the University did that.  

Webber's Pimp

March 14th, 2011 at 1:29 AM ^

As far as I'm concerned the banners should still be up. Albom makes an excellent point. If Chris Webber was on the take he sure wasn't living like it. It's far more likely that he was protecting a family member...

Bando Calrissian

March 14th, 2011 at 2:02 AM ^

Those statistics in the film, while undoubtedly impacted by the Fab Five, also coincided with the football team winning two Big 10 championships, going to two Rose Bowls (winning one of them), and Desmond Howard winning the Heisman Trophy.  So to say the Fab Five was solely responsible for moving a lot of Michigan-licensed merchandise in that period is at least somewhat misleading.  

And I'd say to all of the guys who complained about the University making money on them, they chose to sign a Grant-In-Aid with the full knowledge of what they were getting themselves into.  Michigan just about invented the idea of college sports marketing with Don Canham in the late 60's-early 70's, so it wasn't anything new that Michigan would be licensing Michigan gear.  

At the end of the day, it's too bad they felt they should have gotten a payday, but it's not like they were promised one and didn't get the check.  They did get full scholarship to one of America's elite universities, after all.  Which all of them, to a greater or lesser extent, have used in their post- and extra-basketball careers.  Chris and Jalen are doing television analysis.  Jimmy has been involved with various parts of the business world.  Ray is doing his thing in Texas.  Michigan supplied them with at least some tools to help them in life, right?