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2008, April 15: DT Free Press – U-M athletic director wants a Fab Five reunion

June 24, 2008

April 15, 2008 — Michigan athletic director Bill
Martin made an unusual comment at the Wolverines’ season-ending banquet
Monday night. Martin pointed to former Fab Five player Jimmy King in
the audience, and said: "One of these days I want to host a reunion of
that entire team," adding he wanted to do it as soon as possible.

has always been a passionate Michigan basketball fan, from the days of
Cazzie Russell through the 1990s, attending numerous games before he
became the athletic director in 2000. Part of that is an appreciation
of the Fab Five era, shown by his embrace of Jimmy King as a basketball
radio analyst and the Jalen Rose ceremony this past basketball season.

admitted he was struck last week in Denver when a cab driver told him
how closely he followed the Fab Five and remembered their impact on
college basketball.

But welcoming back the whole team continues to have one major obstacle — Chris Webber.

U-M’s NCAA violations case involving the payments from booster Ed
Martin to the players Webber "and his family received a total of
approximately $280,000 in extra benefits from the representative
between 1988 and 1993, a significant portion of which was received
after the athletics representative became a representative of the
university’s athletics interests in the spring of 1992."

Part of
the NCAA sanctions stated that U-M had to disassociate from Webber (and
the other three involved athletes, Louis Bullock, Robert Traylor and
Maurice Taylor) for at least 10 years from the date of the sanctions,
May of 2003.

That means the disassociated individuals cannot:
assist in the recruiting of athletes or helping an athlete while
enrolled at U-M, they cannot donate money to the athletic department,
they cannot get any benefit not available to the public at large, and
their personal records were vacated.

While Bill Martin is making
an effort to embrace the group — the deep pockets of Rose and Howard
could go a long way to raising the money for that basketball practice
facility Martin said Monday they still need money for — 2013 still
seems a distant goal to be discussing a reunion now. Once Howard
retires from the NBA, as Rose and Webber have in the past two years,
the group may be able to get together independently, as they have for
years on their own time.

But as a U-M event? Don’t wait on it.

may even be that new basketball practice facility before the
U-M-sponsored Fab Five reunion occurs — or maybe the two are tied
closer than we know.