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2006: STAR-LEDGER: Michigan remains in Rose

June 24, 2008

Thursday, March 30, 2006 — NEW YORK — As the Michigan Wolverines
walked off the floor Tuesday night after beating Old Dominion in the
semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament, there was former Fab
Five leader Jalen Rose standing in the tunnel, hugging each player as
he came off the floor.

Rose expects to be there tonight, too, along with fellow Wolverine
Maurice Taylor, to watch their former school play in the final against
South Carolina.

For even if Michigan refuses to recognize them, they still recognize Michigan.

Despite being expunged from the record books and having their
championship banners unceremoniously stripped from the Crisler Arena
rafters (by the University itself, no less) for NCAA violations, Rose
and Taylor still root for the Wolverines.

"Time heals all wounds," Rose said. "I’m Maize and Blue all the way through. I’m very committed to the program."

Rose was not directly implicated in the scandals of the 1990s and his
records are clean. But Taylor was one of four players whose personal
accomplishments and records have been "vacated," and an asterisk
appears next to their names in the Michigan record books. Taylor isn’t
allowed on campus to watch a game for another six years, but he can
come to Madison Square Garden to watch them tonight — and despite the
lingering insult, he says he will.

"We’re loyal," Taylor said. "That’s the difference. We’re loyal."

Though accused by Ed Martin, a Detroit-area booster, of accepting
money, Taylor denies any wrongdoing. Martin also accused Rose’s
teammate Chris Webber, as well as Louis Bullock and Robert Traylor of
taking money.

"I didn’t do anything wrong," Taylor said. "But we had a lot of
notoriety and most of us were from Detroit and we had our own style.
They wanted to distance themselves from us to avoid getting more
penalties from the NCAA. We feel like the way they handled it was a
smack in the face."

On Nov. 7, 2002 — one year after Tommy Amaker left Seton Hall for the
Wolverines — and after several years of scandals scarred its
reputation, Michigan levied heavy sanctions on itself, in part to avoid
heavier penalties from the NCAA. It prohibited itself from
participating in postseason tournaments for two years, and in a painful
decision for so many alumni and fans, vacated all victories associated
with those two eras.

So, those famous Fab Five teams that reached consecutive NCAA Finals in
1992 and ’93? It never happened. The banners came down and all records
were expunged, not only for the two Final Fours, but also for the 1997
NIT champion that Taylor played on.

"I’ve never seen a team go through what we’ve had to go through, and 10
years after the fact," Rose said. "They’re basically trying to erase us
from memory. But you can’t do that."

In all, 112 victories were erased, while Michigan president Mary Sue
Coleman commented: "This is a day of great shame." Taylor, who averaged
14.4 points and 7.4 rebounds in the ’97 NIT, said that shortly after
the announcement he received a letter from the University informing him
of the penalties and instructing him not to set foot on the campus.

"We still feel like it’s our school," Taylor said. "No matter what the
university says, it’s what we say. We are linked because (we went) to
school there and no one can take that away from us."

Part of that link is a third Knick, Jamal Crawford, who spent one
season at Michigan before turning pro. Crawford had his own troubles
there, being temporarily suspended for an alleged violation, which was
later dropped before he was reinstated. (The Knicks are one of only two
teams that have three players from one university — the Clippers have
three former Duke players).

One person who has made it easier for Rose and Taylor to continue
supporting the Wolverines is Amaker. The coach has reached out to all
the stigmatized players.

"He contacted all of us and said he would love to have us back involved
with the program," Taylor said. "He’s the first guy (to reach) out to
us in any way."

Rose, who plays in a summer league with Wolverine point guard Daniel
Horton, is still a frequent visitor to the Michigan campus. His Jalen
Rose Scholastic Endowment provides a scholarship to a Michigan student
each year, and he regularly attends football and basketball games,
refusing to acknowledge the official line that he did not make two
Final Four appearances.

So, even if the record books say there were no Final Fours and there
are no banners to prove it, Rose knows what he did, and so do the
people he sees on campus and at the Garden rooting for his Wolverines.

"I’m loved and adored," he said. "Loved and adored, and the feeling is mutual."

BY DAVID WALDSTEIN
Star-Ledger Staff