NCAA Orders Postseason Ban for Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan’s basketball team was barred from the next postseason by the NCAA on Thursday for rules violations stemming from the Fab Five era.

The team also will lose one of its 13 scholarships a year for four years, beginning in 2004-05, and was put on probation until November 2006.

Michigan held itself out of NCAA tournament play last season, and the NCAA infractions committee called the university’s self-imposed penalties “meaningful” but not enough.

The case stems from an investigation involving now-deceased Michigan booster Ed Martin and whether he paid players, including current Sacramento Kings star Chris Webber.

“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, because it “directly opposes the mission statement of NCAA enforcement: Don’t unfairly punish student-athletes for the transgressions of others.”

Martin said he gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to former University of Michigan basketball players while they were in high school and college. He died in February — on the same day that Michigan officials met with the infractions committee.

Michigan hoped the NCAA would accept the 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; and two years of probation.

After pleading guilty in May to conspiracy to launder money, Martin told the federal government that he took gambling money, combined it with other funds, and 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.

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 field.