President and AD acknowledge basketball program's past offenses, say University is ready to move on
...Numerous allegations about problems in the basketball program surfaced in the news media over a six-year period beginning in 1996. In March, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Ed Martin, and the subsequent plea bargain that Mr. Martin reached with the federal government finally assured his cooperation with the University in learning the truth about what happened.
On July 26, University of Michigan and NCAA representatives sat down with Ed Martin's attorneys. Through his attorneys, we were able to verify that four U-M players and their families received improper loans totaling $616,000 from Ed Martin either prior to or during their attendance at the University. Those players were Chris Webber, Robert Traylor, Maurice Taylor and Louis Bullock.
We also learned about other benefits that Mr. Martin provided to our players, in violation of NCAA rules.
There is no excuse for what happened. It was wrong, plain and simple. We have let down all who believe that the University of Michigan should stand for the best in college athletics. We have disappointed our students, our faculty, our alumni and our fans. This is a day of great shame for the University.
I am determined that nothing like this will ever happen again at Michigan.
Today we will submit our report to the NCAA. In it we have listed the penalties we will impose upon ourselves in order to make up for what happened. These sanctions are strong medicine. ...We considered these carefully in light of the gravity of the violations and the consistent approach the NCAA has had toward such problems at other universities.
This is the University's third investigation into the basketball program since 1996. As a new president, I have been impressed with the persistence that the University has shown in getting at the truth. No one wanted to sweep these problems under the rug. Athletic Director Bill Martin has done all the right things to make it very clear to everyone in the department that integrity is our top priority. And he put significant resources behind that goal by hiring a top-notch staff to oversee compliance. All of the changes that have been made, from tighter access policies to major coaching changes, are meant to ensure that we never again will have to stand before you and tell you that our University broke the rules.
Let me say once again, loud and clear: Integrity is Michigan's top priority.
...Despite our best efforts, we were not able to
substantiate the allegations of loans to the four
Almost all of what we now know came about through an interview we had with Ed Martin's attorneys in July. Marvin Krislov [vice president and general counsel] was there, along with our outside counsel and representatives from the NCAA, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office. ...We spent several hours seeking answers to the questions that have lingered with us for the past six years.
Mr. Martin's attorneys confirmed the amounts of the loans to specific U of M basketball players. His attorneys indicated he loaned the money with the intention of being repaid after the students became professional athletes. They stated he had assisted a number of athletes in this way, many beginning in high school or even earlier. They said he had never steered a student toward the University of Michigan nor any other university, and did not think of himself as a representative of the U-M.
We also conducted a number of follow-up interviews with former U-M Athletic Department coaches and staff. Some of these individuals, including former Head Coach Steve Fisher, were interviewed by NCAA staff. None of these individuals we interviewed over the summer and fall shared any new information nor claimed knowledge of any of the events we describe in our report.
Even though we couldn't prove the allegations about Ed Martin's loans to our players until now, we did a number of things over the years to address the problems and strengthen compliance with NCAA and Big Ten rules. We have made not one but two changes in the head coaching position since these problems first came to light. None of the current players and coaches were at the University during any time period when the violations were occurring.
I believe that my job as athletic director is to hire coaches of honor and integrity, who can win at the national level the right way, and who can recruit student-athletes who graduate. This is where I have focused much of my efforts in the past two years. I see the results of this work when I look at Men's Basketball Head Coach Tommy Amaker.
Tommy and I are in agreement with what the president has detailed about the sanctions we will impose on the basketball program. We stand side by side on this. These penalties are serious, but they fit with the level of the problems we uncovered.
Even though this is the right thing to do, I want to personally apologize
to our three basketball players who are graduating seniors. As a result
of these penalties, they will never have the chance to play in a tournament.
These students had nothing to do with what happened, and I am sorry that
they have to pay the price.