Thursday, November 07, 2002

Thank You Sir May I Have Another: You may have been following the scandals surrounding University of Michigan basketball (yeah, it's local, and it's my alma mater, so I'm going to rant a bit) wherein Chris Weber and others members of the now infamous Fab Five of the early '90s accepted loans from some numbers runner while they were on the team. This is, of course, forbidden by the NCAA and U of M faced punishment. Today the president of U of M announced preemptive punishment which should no doubt satisfy the NCAA poobahs once they take up the issue.
"I am determined that nothing like this will ever happen again at Michigan," [UM President Mary Sue] Coleman said. "Let me say loud and clear: Integrity is our top priority."
To prove this, she announced the following punitive steps.
* U-M will forfeit all games won while the four players were ineligible, including the 1992 and 1993 Final Fours, the entire 1992-93 season, and all the seasons from fall 1995 through spring of 1999. The University has removed four championship banners from Crisler Arena and will remove all references to the victories from all written materials.

* U-M has promised to repay to the NCAA about $450,000 in revenue for postseason play with the players.

* The basketball team will not participate in the 2003 NCAA Tournament or the post-season National Invitational Tournament.

* The basketball program will go on probation for two years.
This is insane. What, exactly, is the point of forfeiting an entire decade of games? What does that achieve? And removing all references to the victories from all written materials? Huh? This is like Pharaoh removing all references to Moses in the Ten Commandments. Even Pete Rose hasn't been erased from the baseball record. All that does is make the written materials inaccurate.

And what sense does it make not to play in the postseason this year? Deny your current team - none of whom had any contact with the known crooks, all of whom want every opportunity to play in high profile situation for the scouts and were probably thinking about that when they were recruited - a chance at post-season accolades because of something Chris Weber did 10 years ago?

Pay the fines, fire anyone associated with the crooks, take the hit on future recruiting, be contrite, then move on. That's all you have to do. It'll hurt enough. Coleman appears to want to flagellate everyone in sight, guilty and innocent, so she can pat herself on the back over her image of integrity. But the real costs to real people don't justify her exercise in moral indignation.