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Updated 1:00 PM September 29, 2003
 

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NCAA reverses postseason ban


The NCAA has restored the U-M men's basketball team's eligibility to play in postseason tournaments this season, reversing its earlier decision that imposed an additional one-year ban on postseason competition. In an announcement Sept. 25, the Division I Infractions Appeals Committee said the extra year added to the University's self-imposed ban for 2002-03 was excessive.

U-M men's basketball head coach Tommy Amaker discusses strategy with 2003 Big Ten Conference Freshman of the Year Daniel Horton during a game last season at Crisler Arena. (File photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)

Central to the committee's decision was the manner in which the University cooperated with the investigation, the NCAA appeals committee report said. "The institution's extraordinary efforts transcended cooperation,' and strongly mitigate against imposition of the second year of the postseason ban," the report concluded.

"I am pleased that the NCAA Appeals Committee took our concerns seriously and gratified that the committee recognized the extraordinary efforts the University undertook in order to get to the truth," President Mary Sue Coleman said.

"Last year I watched Coach [Tommy] Amaker and his team play with heart and dedication, but with no hope of postseason play even though they were not involved in any way. It feels good to know the team can go into this season focused 100 percent on the potential for future success," she said.

"This is a tremendously positive day for the University of Michigan and our basketball program. We are so appreciative of the news we received today," Amaker said on the day of the announcement. "I am thrilled for the young men on our team, and I believe they truly deserve this opportunity. We all remain excited about the upcoming season and truly look forward to the challenges that lie ahead."

In November 2002, Coleman and Athletic Director Bill Martin announced a list of sanctions the University had self-imposed in response to a federal investigation that revealed self-proclaimed sports booster Ed Martin had loaned $616,000 to former U-M basketball players Chris Webber, Robert Traylor, Maurice Taylor and Louis Bullock, in violation of NCAA rules. The University forfeited all games won while the four players were ineligible, including the 1992 and 1993 Final Fours; re-paid to the NCAA about $450,000 the University received for postseason play; and voluntarily imposed a one-year ban on postseason tournament play.

The U-M men’s basketball team battles Michigan State last season at Crisler Arena. The Wolverines and Spartans both will be prime candidates for the NCAA Tournament now that U-M is eligible for postseason play in 2004.(File photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)

In May, the NCAA Committee on Infractions added new sanctions, taking away one of U-M's 13 scholarships every season for four years beginning in 2004-05, and placing the University on probation for a total of four years, instead of the two years the University had recommended. It also added another year to the postseason ban. The University accepted all the new sanctions but the additional year ban, stating it unfairly punished uninvolved student-athletes. The appeals committee of the NCAA agreed.

The NCAA report issued Sept. 25 said it is unlikely that the identities of the individuals involved in the Ed Martin matter, and the amount of money in question, could have been determined without University assistance. The appeals committee also said that the situation involving Martin and the players did not reflect a lack of institutional control or academic fraud. Additionally, the University did not gain competitive advantage as a result of the rules violations.

"With today's announcement, this long and unpleasant chapter in the University history has ended once and for all," Bill Martin said. "We have learned some hard lessons from this experience, but we emerged from it with a stronger program and a renewed commitment to the highest standards of integrity. I'm proud of Coach Amaker and our current players, who gave their best effort last year despite a ban on the postseason tournament that was self-imposed by the University. We're looking ahead now to a terrific season."

 

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