Michigan basketball has a great history and you cannot tell that story without mentioning the Fab Five: Chris Webber, Juwon Howard, Jalen Rose, Kimmy King, and Ray Jackson. For those unfamiliar, they were all members of the 1991 recruiting class for the Wolverines and went to back-to-back NCAA Tournament Finals in 1992 and 1993.
However, there was a scandal involving them and Ed Martin where Martin made payments to several players to launder money from sports betting.
Since then, the relationship between the Fab Five and Michigan has been rocky at best, and Chris Webber was being enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
The story continued as Webber told ESPN that Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel apologized to him for how he was treated during the 2003 investigation that led to him dissociating from the school for a decade. However, Manuel denied the apology took place saying:
“I enjoyed the conversation with Chris when we met several years ago. But I can assure you I made no apology to Chris and, for those who may be curious, I never asked him to apologize to the University of Michigan. I wish Chris nothing but the best, and I’m happy that he’s being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.”
What’s the End Game?
Whether Warde Manuel and the Univerisity of Michigan want to admit it here or not, their biggest claim to fame in the world of collegiate basketball has been the Fab Five. Manuel wasn’t the athletic director at the school during any of the issues and this could have been a reconciliation between the school and the players but he ruined it.
I understand that Chris Webber is the “bad guy” from whatever happened during the Ed Martin scandal but it being over 30 years ago and Warde Manuel not being associated with the school during any of it, what’s the harm of saying that he got the short end of the stick?
The court of public opinion is going to go against the university and they seem to either not realize that or just not care.
Burning the Bridge
It seemed like the connection between Webber and Michigan was beginning to heal as he was seen on the sidelines for a Michigan football game three years ago after being invited by head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Just having the university apologize that one of its biggest star athletes that are going to the Hall of Fame had a tough break by being disassociated with the school for 10 years could have been enough but now the bridge seems to be burning once again.
If the University of Michigan had no people issue an apology to Chris Webber that is one thing but why go out publically and vehemently deny it?
It seems like Manuel was ready to keep Chris Webber at an arm’s length from the school but whether the NCAA keeps his statistics vacated, it still happened and he is one of the biggest reasons that Michigan basketball had a cool factor to it. Just not commenting is better than what Manuel just did.