|Thursday, May 8
Updated: May 9, 12:03 PM ET
Michigan hit with one-year postseason ban
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- More misery for Michigan basketball.
The Wolverines were barred from the next postseason and put on 3½ years' probation by the NCAA on Thursday for a booster's payments to players dating to the Fab Five era.
The team also will lose one of its 13 scholarships annual scholarships for four years, beginning in 2004-05.
The case stems from an investigation involving now-deceased Michigan booster Ed Martin, who said he paid players, including current Sacramento Kings star Chris Webber.
"This is one of the most egregious violations of NCAA laws in the history of the organization," NCAA Committee on Infractions chairman Thomas Yeager said. "The reputation of the university, the student-athletes and the coach as a result of the basketball team's accomplishments from 1992 through 1998 were a sham."
Former Michigan coach Steve Fisher declined Thursday to issue a statement or take questions about the news of Michigan's sanctions.
Michigan held itself out of the NCAA Tournament last season, and the NCAA infractions committee called the university's self-imposed penalties "meaningful" but not enough. The Wolverines were barred from the NCAA Tournament and NIT next season, but the Big Ten can decide whether to allow the school into the conference tourney.
"We have always accepted responsibility for the concerns raised by the NCAA and by the infractions committee in its report," Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman said. "We own the wrongdoing, and we own the responsibility."
She said the school will appeal the postseason ban. Michigan expects to have a decision on the appeal this fall.
Martin said he gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to former Wolverines basketball players while they were in high school and college. He died in February -- on the same day Michigan officials met with the infractions committee.
Michigan hoped the NCAA would accept its self-imposed sanctions, including the removal of four banners from Crisler Arena and any pictures, words or records in printed materials involving Webber, Maurice Taylor, Robert Traylor and Louis Bullock; forfeits of 112 regular-season and tournament victories from five seasons, plus its victory in the 1992 NCAA semifinals; the return of $450,000 to the NCAA from tarnished postseason appearances.
After pleading guilty a year ago to conspiracy to launder money, Martin told the federal government that he lent $616,000 to Webber, Taylor, Traylor and Bullock.
Webber is to face trial in July on charges of obstruction of justice and lying to a federal grand jury about Martin.
"I really can't respond ... " Webber told The Sacramento Bee when asked about the sanctions. "There's still a trial to go to determine if that happened or not. I'm not a lawyer. I can't say nothing. They'll get it in the book (he plans to write someday).
"As far as thinking about that, I couldn't care less. We have Dallas to play. We have bigger fish to fry."
The Wolverines' woes extended to the court early last season, with the first 0-6 start in school history. But then Michigan won 13 straight games for the first time since 1987-88, and it opened Big Ten play 6-0.
Michigan wound up tied for third in the Big Ten with Michigan State and Purdue, which both made the NCAA Tournament.
The NCAA would allow rising senior Bernard Robinson to leave for another school without sitting out his final season, but the forward is not expected to transfer.
"When Coach (Tommy Amaker) said we had an opportunity to leave and play somewhere else he was the first one to say he was staying," sophomore guard Daniel Horton said of Robinson. "He said he was not going anywhere and that there is no sense in whining and crying about it because we have been here before. We had this meeting last year and there were a lot of tears last year. ... Nobody was crying about this Wednesday night."