September 26, 2003
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Amaker & Co. are
Nineteen years ago, the movie "Footloose" was released.
In the classic film, Kevin Bacon plays a rebellious city
kid who moves into an uptight country community. The
minister of the community, played by John Lithgow, heads a
movement that has banned dancing from the town.
Bacon, though, refuses to put up with the rules,
demanding that the teenagers of the town be allowed to
dance. As Bacon continues to
rebel, the other kids rally behind
him, challenging Lithgow's
authority. At the end of ther
movie, Lithgow finally relents,
allowing the community the priv-
ilege of a long-awaited dance.
"How in the world is this rele- CHRIS
vant?" you may be asking. "Just talk BURIE
about basketball you schmuck."
Settle down, I'm getting there. Goin' to work
Michigan's basketball team has
Think about it ... coach Tommy Amaker arrives in Ann
Arbor, a town fed up with basketball. Shortly after his arrival,
the ruling comes down - the Wolverines are not allowed to
"Not fair," cries Amaker. "Past mistakes shouldn't keep my
kids from dancing."
So Amaker rallies his team, gets the support of the fans and
the community, and the Wolverines keep on playing. They play
through a 17-13 year, sending the message to the NCAA that
things are different in Ann Arbor now. It's a program of good
kids, clean kids - kids that want to dance.
And then, at the last moment, with the first practice of the
year clearly in sight, the NCAA changes its mind.
"Okay," the committee says. "Dance."
Well, Tommy, go ahead and kick off your Sunday shoes.
The black cloud that has been hanging over the Michigan
program for what seems like an eternity has finally lifted.
With the Infractions Appeals Committee's decision to lift
Michigan's postseason ban for this season, the Wolverines
again have something to play for.
Not just pride or Big Ten respectability, but the ultimate goal:
To hear your team's name called off on Selection Sunday.
The last time that happened was 1998.
The last time it happened without a player who was paid by
booster Ed Martin was when Michigan lost to Arkansas in the
1994 Elite Eight.
Remember that game? Led by Juwan Howard and Jalen
Rose, Michigan looked like it was heading back to the Final
Four until a crazy game of chicken involving two tractors ...
wait, I might be confusing the team with the movie.
Keep in mind that this wasn't supposed to happen. The
NCAA never does this. If there's an organization in America
that doesn't loosen its stance, it's the NCAA.
But this is the day that Amaker has been building toward
since he was put in charge of saving the Michigan program in
2001. Everything - the recruiting, the rededication to the fans
and the improvement of the team - has been leading up to this.
The Wolverines never stopped, like Bacon dancing in empty
barns and in fields, knowing that, eventually, the Martin scan-
dal would be in the background.
And now, here it is.
No, the torn-down banners won't hang from the Crisler
Arena rafters again. The Wolverines will still have to deal with
probation and paying money back to the NCAA.
It's got to be hard for the Wolverines to pay attention to that
with the music blaring in the background.
Time to cut loose, Blue. Footloose.
You're allowed to dance again.
- Chris Burke has no idea if this column makes sense, but he can
still be reached at email@example.com.
Sophomore Daniel Horton was one of five Wolverines who attended the Maize Rage meeting at Cliff Keen Arena.
Fans express shock and jOy at
first Maize Rage meeting
New precedent sets
up NCAA fallout
ohn Lithgow's character in "Footloose" and the NCAA are
weak. Simply put. They buckled under pressure, and now the
floodgates are open.
Don't get me wrong, I was all for Kevin Bacon busting it loose,
and to see the innocent of the Michigan
scandal - Tommy Amaker and his
players - reprieved of all that they did-
n't do was refreshing.
But, let's face facts, the NCAA hurt
itself by allowing Michigan to get the
chance to be in the postseason this year.
The NCAA Division I Infractions KYLE
Appeals Committee used the seven fac-
tors that it had for the Mississippi deci- O'NEILL
sion in 1995 that banned the school The Daily Janitor
from televised games to decide what
should be done for Michigan.
The first factor was "the nature, number and seriousness of the
violation(s)." It doesn't get much bigger according to the NCAA.
"In total, this is one of the three or four most egregious viola-
tions of NCAA bylaws in the history of the association," NCAA
Infractions Committee Chair Thomas Yeager said at the time.
Then there's this statistic: of 215 major infractions cases since
1985, there have been 27 instances where the punishment was for
two years or more. Not to state the obvious, but if this situation
was "one of the three or four most egregious violations" ever, then
shouldn't it be punished as such?
Factor two was "the conduct and motives of the involved indi-
viduals." Given that this was a simple violation of the NCAA rule
to accept illegal gifts, there is not much debate as for where the
Infractions Appeals Committee could have stood on this matter.
For your record, that puts Michigan down 2-0 at this point.
The University does gain one back on "the corrective actions
taken by the University" (factor three). President Mary Sue Cole-
man, Athletic Director Bill Martin and Amaker were nothing but
compliant on what was handed down and also had taken action
with their own self-imposed penalties.
Factor four - which hurt Michigan originally - looks at "a
comparison of the penalty or penalties imposed in other cases with
similar characteristics." Originally, the NCAA Infractions Com-
mittee compared Michigan to the 2002 decision on the Alabama
football team. The appeals committee felt otherwise and gave
another point to Michigan, even though it is essentially the same
case. It was just never proven that any of the four Michigan bas-
ketball players convicted received money before coming to the
University. Which was the reason the comparison between the two
was dropped - something that would be debatable had Ed Martin
ever given his full testimony.
Factors five through seven addressed the cooperation of the
University, the impact on the innocent and the "NCAA policies
regarding fairness." To continue with the point system that I have
invented to go with these factors, that would give Michigan points
for five and six and a meaningless loss off factor seven.
Here's my question: Why should Michigan's theoretical 4-3 win
be the deciding factor? Yes, this isn't Alabama. These players did-
n't get money in high school, like the convicted Crimson Tide
players did. So what? If this was one of the worst violations ever,
then it should be punished as so. Not only to punish Michigan, but
also to have a reference point in case another school comes in with
similar violations. The NCAA, using its seven-factor system, has
left itself wide open for interpretations in any case down the road.
No infringement is exactly the same as another, and while it is
fine to use comparisons to help with decisions, each situation
needs its own individual look. This decision has set a new standard
that the NCAA will have to follow when dealing with breaches of
set rules that are not amongst the worst in NCAA history.
Like I said, I'm happy to see those who didn't break the rules
not get punished. I just hope the NCAA is ready for the fallout of
letting Michigan essentially decide its own punishment and walk
away with the wounds ofjust one lost season.
By Dan Rosen
Daily Sports Writer
Freshman Kyle Brown sifted through a newspaper
in class yesterday morning, but he didn't notice the
front page until he walked out into the hall. When he
and his roommate, freshman James McKenzie, finally
saw the news that the Michigan basketball team was
again eligible for the postseason, Brown began
"I called my brother; I called my friend," Brown
said. "I was like, 'I've got to talk to someone,'
because I was so excited."
Last night, Brown and about 100 other Michigan
basketball fans gathered at the Maize Rage mass
meeting at Cliff Keen Arena. Before yesterday, none
of them seemed to know this news was coming.-
"You appeal, but you don't really expect anything to
come of it," Michigan graduate student Paul Gromek
said. "I was just resigned to the fact that there wasn't
really going to be any postseason this year."
Many heard rumors about the appeal Wednesday
night, but were afraid to get their hopes up. Senior
Peter Lund, the group's leader, got an email from a
buddy about it, but was "skeptical." It wasn't until he
saw the headlines the next day that he let the idea
Lund said that he expects more people to come out
to basketball games now. The Maize Rage hopes to
build a team of around 1,000 to cheer on the Wolver-
ines this season. It would be the largest group of stu-
dents the Ragers have ever had.
"I think being tournament-worthy (last year), in
terms of our team's record, and not being able to go
was a frustrating experience," said Lund, also known
as Superfan IV "It really makes you appreciate it,
now that we are eligible."
"We were going to cheer them on 100 percent,
regardless, but it does give you a little more reward to
look for in the end."
Five Wolverines - captains Bernard Robinson and
J.C. Mathis, sophomores Daniel Horton and Chris
Hunter and redshirt freshman Amadou Ba - made an
appearance at the meeting to show their appreciation
to the Maize Rage.
And if the players do go dancing in March, many
of the fans at the meeting last night pledged to join
"There is reason to believe this team can go to the
national championship," Lund told the crowd. "We
haven't had that for four or five years."
The NCAA Division I Infractions Appeals Committee
decided to reverse the ruling on this year's postseason ban.
The appeal was granted after determining the "excessive-
ness" of a second-year ban,
- Though NCAA Bylaw 22.214.171.124 does not mandate the specific
length of post-season bans, muki year bans have been imposed in.
29A-percent of the cases.
-The factors which have lead to multi-year bans in the past
include "repeat violator status lack of institutional control, or aca
demic fraud." None of these stipulations are evident in this case
-The committee concluded that Michigan did not receive a stag-
gering competitive advantage" because the student-athletes
involved would have played for the school even if they hadn't
received loans. Before, Michigan had been likened to AlabamaT
which in 2002, had players found guilty of receiving gifts before and
during their tenure at Alabama.
- The committee recognized the institution's "cooperai on"in itn
rifying the athletes involved and loan amounts. The reversal of the
second-year ban was partly based on these "extraordinary efforts".
- Kyle O'Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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