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Wednesday, June 19
The Indiana Daily Student

Michigan shouldn't have a say

Part of being an authority figure is that you have the authority to punish. That's why the notion of the University of Michigan offering to discipline itself for its actions in its men's basketball program related to the actions of booster Ed Martin are ridiculous.\nPerhaps this argument is more moralistic than sports-related, but guilty parties do not have a right to determine their own punishment. They're biased. Victims, in this case many of the teams that played Michigan between 1992 and 1999, don't have the right to determine Michigan's punishment either. They're biased too. This is the National Collegiate Athletic Association's job.\nI assume that the NCAA lets schools recommend their own punishments in order to get schools to acknowledge their guilt and in order to save investigative resources. They feel that if schools have a better idea of who exactly the bad apples are in the program, then they know exactly who to ferret out.\nThis after-the-fact approach doesn't work however. While it might be a good idea to let schools acknowledge their problems, it seems to only lead to smug behavior thereafter.\nMaurice Taylor, a former Michigan player now playing for the Houston Rockets and one of the players who received money from Martin, had this to say about Martin: "I'd never call him a criminal. He's the guy that's always nice and cordial toward me."\nWell, Maurice, denial ain't just a river in Egypt, but Martin is a criminal. Martin pled guilty to participating in a money laundering conspiracy. What is so cordial about that?\nThen, Taylor went on to criticize the NCAA. "(W)hen somebody is trying to get something to help themselves to get into school, to help their family while they're in school, how can you fault them for that?"\nOf course, this argument is wrong. Anybody who thinks that illegal payments to college athletes will stop once we legalize stipends for college athletes is naive. Martin gave away $616,000 to just four players. He gave $105,000 to Taylor. The NCAA cannot compete with that. How much money does Taylor think the NCAA really has? Or is the NCAA's new motto "Bread on Every Table, An Escalade in Every Carport"?\nAs for the punishments, first, Michigan agreed to forfeit 112 wins garnered between 1992 and 1999 and the removal of any banners related to the accomplishments of these teams, including the Fab Five's Final Four appearances in 1992 and 1993. Does this make you feel better? I didn't think so. As former Michigan "Fab Fiver" and current Chicago Bull Jalen Rose said, "Because the reality of it is, you can try to erase it from the history books or pull it from the rafters, but you can't erase the most famous college team from the minds of people."\nSecond, the school agreed to ban itself from post-season play for the coming season. Of course, Michigan is a second-division team in the Big Ten with slim post-season hopes anyway. They haven't been to the NCAA Tournament since 1998, and even a winning record would be significant progress.\nThird, they put themselves on probation for two years. This is way too short. Five years sounds about right. Probation should cover everybody in the incoming freshman class through their entire college careers. Probation shouldn't be so short that players hope to wait it out. A five-year probation can help weed out the undesirables more permanently.\nLastly, the university will repay the $450,000 that Michigan received for post-season play during these years. Of course, the university has had up to ten years to invest this money. For all we know, they could repay this with the interest they gained during this time. The right thing to do would be to not only repay the money but also pay a significant penalty based on a percentage of gate receipts.\nWhat's funny in retrospect is how people have cried how unfair it is that the guys currently on the team have to suffer the punishment while many of the wrongdoers continue to play in the NBA and while then-coach Steve Fisher, aka The Fourth Blind Mouse, continues to draw a salary as the coach at San Diego State. Sorry, but I lack sympathy. Many players had to know of the investigation when they were being recruited, and it was not like there weren't other prominent Division I schools these guys could have attended.\nOf course, looking back, the biggest punishment Michigan gave itself is unrelated to the current scandal. It hired Tommy Amaker as its coach.

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