The University Record, March 18, 1997

Basketball program inquiry results in "corrective actions"

Roberson photoBates photoThe Athletic Department announced last week that "a series of corrective steps will be taken in light of an internal investigation involving the men's basketball program," according to Athletic Director M. Joseph Roberson and Percy Bates, faculty athletic representative.

The findings are the result of a University inquiry undertaken at the request of the NCAA after allegations about the program were brought to the attention of the NCAA by anonymous sources. The allegations stemmed from a 1996 automobile accident involving members of the team.

The inquiry found that the U-M committed two minor violations of NCAA policy and narrowly averted two major violations. The report was submitted to the NCAA March 4.

The investigation focused on the activities of a single individual and his involvement with several members of the basketball team. The individual is described as a "long-time friend" of the family of one player. The University determined that the individual had made inappropriate offers of extra benefits and assistance to several student-athletes and members of their families.

Steve Fisher photoThe efforts, thwarted by basketball coach Steve Fisher as soon as they came to his attention, included attempts to buy airplane tickets for family members and secure rental housing for the students.

"While we are pleased that our system was able to prevent major violations from occurring, we are disappointed that internal disciplines and reporting procedures did not result in these activities coming to our attention earlier," Roberson said.

"We want it to be very clear that we in no way condone the behavior of this individual in relation to our basketball program and our student athletes," Roberson and Bates said in their letter.

One secondary violation involved the presence of the individual at a home recruiting visit to a prospective student-athlete by Fisher. The other involved the individual providing a birthday cake to an enrolled student-athlete.

Corrective actions will be taken

The University is initiating a series of corrective actions as a result of the inquiry into NCAA policy violations by the men's basketball team. They include:

 

"Totally disassociating" the individual from the athletic program.

 

Counseling the coaching staff on what constitutes an "appropriate reporting process."

 

Providing further training of the coaching staff on NCAA rules and regulations, "with particular emphasis on who qualifies as a representative of the University's athletic program and methods of early identification of individuals who may be potential peddlers of influence."

 

Declaring one student ineligible due to the home visit. (The University requested and has received permission from the NCAA to reinstate the student's eligibility.)

 

Reducing by two the number of official recruiting visits to campus during the 1997-98 recruiting season.

 

Reducing the number of permissible off-campus contacts from three to two for one year.

"These corrective actions," say Athletic Director Joseph Roberson and faculty representative Percy Bates, "represent the beginning stages of ongoing education and monitoring in our athletic program, which can only result in making us better in the future than we are today."