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Friday, March 21, 2014


We interrupt March Madness to look back at a very important date in University of Michigan sports history. Something very, very, big happened 12 years ago today.

It was on this date in 2002 that a Federal Grand Jury issued an indictment charging Ed Martin with running an illegal "numbers operation" at the Ford Plant in River Rouge, Michigan. It was this legal charge that tied in Michigan Basketball with organized crime.

The charges against Martin specified payments made by him to four UM basketball players over a several-year period, totaling at least $600,000. The technical term for the process is "money laundering", as the wolverine players were expected to pay back the money when they got rich later on in the NBA. This verified the partnership forged between Michigan officials (including men's basketball coach Steve Fisher) and the overtly criminal element.

This case took years to process to its conclusion. An initial investigation was made by UM in the late 1990's, followed by the Big Ten conference looking into the matter. Both reviews left Michigan pretty much in the clear. But the federal agencies were not so forgiving of blatantly illegal schemes operating in the public sector. The Federal Bureau of Investigation stepped in, along with the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service, in other words, pretty much the same folks who got together to take down Al Capone.

The entire saga is well documented by various sources, and one of the best summaries of this debacle can be found on Wikipedia. Here is an excerpt from the University of Michigan Basketball Scandal web page:

On March 21, 2002—after almost three years of testimony—the grand jury returned an eight-count indictment charging Martin, his wife Hilda and their friend Clarence Malvo with running an illegal gambling business at the Ford River Rouge plant, money laundering and conspiracy to launder money. According to the indictment, Martin made illicit loans totalling $616,000 to Webber, Taylor, Bullock and Traylor to launder money from an illegal numbers game at Detroit–area auto plants.[31] The loans were made with the understanding that they would be repaid once the players turned pro. Martin was indicted for having paid Webber a total of $280,000 between 1988–1993, which included time from Webber's freshman year at Detroit Country Day School in Birmingham, Michigan to his sophomore year at Michigan.

Some other good sources for information about this identity-defining story about the University in Michigan are Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, the Ann Arbor News, the Michigan Daily, and the New York Times.

So it's a great time for Michigan, a chance to celebrate their criminal history, and their legacy of illegal behavior that will forever stain their school and their sports teams in the minds of those of us who saw this supposedly great institution dodge justice and evade their fate for more than a decade before going down in shame.

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  1. Do you have proof that Fischer was aware of the transactions?

    1. Nobody has "proof", but there is solid evidence.

      The day before the "transactions" became publicly verified, Fisher denied all allegations. The next day, when it all hit the fan, Fisher was fired.

      If Fisher was unaware of the "transactions", he could have told his boss as much, and if his boss believed him, he would have been kept on the job, along with his two Final Fours (those had not yet been taken away). Since it's very hard to understand firing a coach with a substitute national championship and two other Final Fours, the evidence points to Fisher being aware of it, or his boss believing he was aware of it. Maybe you think UM made a big mistake in firing Fisher.

      But why would you care so much about Fisher in this thing? Ed Martin was given seats behind the team bench for more than 30 games, and he dressed in a way that made things look pretty "fishy". Everybody else knew what was going on, how could Fisher not know?

      You must be too young or ignorant to know much about the entire scandal. You should read up on it. The more you read, the more you'll know.

      When the news hit the fan, it was not a "surprise" to anybody, and for all but the UM crowd, it was basically a RELIEF to see it move forward into the open. We all knew about non-kosher stuff going down; everybody knew something was rotten in Denmark.

      But again, it's irrelevant. If Fisher somehow didn't "know", a good number of other people within your great University of Michigan definitely knew. There was no secret about it.

  2. So you don't have proof?

    I'll agree, it's foolish to assume that Fischer didn't know anything, but it's not about what Fischer knew, it's what we know.

    That's why assumptions to equal convictions. Way to spread filth.

    1. Your ignorance is becoming amusing. Is it an act, or genuine? Either way.

      Why don't you explain why UM fired Fisher immediately upon the investigation becoming public? You're saying he didn't know anything about the "transactions", even though he signed for Ed Martin to sit behind the team bench more than 30 times. So if he wasn't part of it and didn't know about it, why was he fired, in your opinion and/or understanding?

      [and by he way, what could you possibly mean by "it's not about what Fisher knew, it's what we know"?]

    2. As I said, it is foolish to assume that Fischer knew nothing. But it's not what Fischer knows/knew, it's what we know (or can proove), which is nothing.

      I'm trying to help you out, you made a bold proclamation about Coach Fischer, one that cannot be substantiated. Assumption do not equal convictions.

      You get it now?

  3. You clearly have nothing to offer in this discussion. Your school fired Fisher - - - IMMEDIATELY - - - upon public revelation of the impending scandal. You have not blamed your school for making a mistake, nor have you claimed that Fisher was not guilty. You are only picking on my ability to produce court-ready legal proof regarding Fisher. This is silly, as it took a Grand Jury and three federal agencies to crack this case. I could not have done it on my own, so my views (and/or "proof") are irrelevant.

    All we "get" is that you are generally uninformed about your adopted school history. You're probably quite young and never bothered to read up on Ed Martin.

  4. First, I have never claimed to be a fan of Michigan, so you should stop making assumptions.

    Second, Fischer was fired, but that is not necessarily an admission of guilt. Whenever there is a scandal, someone's head will need to roll. Whether it's Michigan, USC, or even Wall Street in 2008. Fischer was even quoted on his way out the door that he (paraphrasing) "ran his program the right way."

    Again, I'm trying to help you. But if you want to name call, and act childish, then have at it.

  5. You are definitely a sick puppy. Now you claim that you want to "help me"? Do tell, what "help" is it you're trying to offer?

    As for your anonymous identity, nobody can tell that you're NOT the other "anonymous" source of comments, or the other one before that. If you want your comments tracked uniquely, so that people respond to you and nobody else, pick a name, not "anonymous". I suggest you log-in as "chUMp troll"; we will certainly recognize you by that name.

    What's the "bold proclamation" you said I made about Fisher? He was fired by UM, so it couldn't by anything I said about his partnership with Ed Martin. Fisher put Martin behind the team bench more than 30 times.

    1. "This verified the partnership forged between Michigan officials (including men's basketball coach Steve Fisher) and the overtly criminal element."

      There is no proof that Fischer was aware of any money that exchanged hands. As I said, I think it's foolish to assume Steve didn't know anything, but he has not been linked to the scandal in the way you infer.

      I'm trying to help you. Slander, liable, etc. While Fischer will never probably see this website, if there's no proof, you can't include Fischer's name in that statement.

      So after reading this, go back and read the first comment that was left, does it all make sense now? I expect an apology.

    2. Okay, I get it! All this time you have been fooling me, ha ha, as I was taking you seriously! Now I see you're actually a comedian, just working on your act. Hoo hah, you really had me there for awhile!

      You tipped me off with that stuff about "trying to help" me. Then you mentioned slander, which would not apply to the written word. Libel is what you probably meant by "liable", but there must be damages for a lawsuit. So you raise a key question.

      If Fisher did not sue the UM for damages after losing such a lucrative position, why and how could he sue anybody on this web site without any proven damages?

      See, I get your joke! It's sort of a question within a question. Pretty clever!

    3. I'm trying to tell you, that you have incorrect information on your website. If you want to argue it you can, but that doesn't discount the fact that you're wrong.

      I'm just trying to help you out.

  6. In September 1996, athletic director Joe Roberson learned that during the previous month Martin had tried to place deposits on apartments for Traylor and Louis Bullock. Martin had also offered airline tickets to Bullock's parents so they could attend a tournament in Puerto Rico. It emerged that Fisher had known about Martin's actions at the time. While Fisher had ordered the deposits retrieved and made sure the tickets weren't used, he didn't tell anyone in the athletic or compliance offices, as he was required to do.


    Fisher prevented Martin from committing serious additional violations by keeping him from placing a deposit on an apartment for a player. He also stopped Martin from buying airplane tickets for another player's family.

    Now, Fischer knew nothing?

    I suggest you actually learn something about the scandal before accusing the researcher of mythmaking.

    1. Before you argue, reread the article. No where does it state that Fischer knew of the transactions between Martin and the players. It only states that there was a "partnership" between Michigan officials and a criminal element and the "Michigan officials" included Fischer.

  7. Thank you 76. This guy is pretty slippery about the actual "fact" that he says is supposedly "wrong".

    We already know that Fisher was allowed to continue his career without punishment, but many folks at the time believed that was unjust. Some of those folks worked for the NCAA. I have never claimed that Fisher was punished by the NCAA, so it remains unclear what "fact" is supposedly "wrong".

    There's more to what Fisher did with Martin. As I wrote above, the charges against Martin verified the PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN him and Fisher. Maybe the anonymous one doesn't think there was a "partnership".

    Consider the airline tickets and the apartments. Fisher knew, as proven by his actions. But he also allowed Ed Martin to be part of recruiting meetings, and allowed Martin into the UM locker room. Why would he do that for some guy with no credentials or background in basketball?

    Just because Fisher excused himself from the room when the envelopes were exchanged does not make him "innocent".

    The NCAA wanted to get Fisher - - - BADLY - - - but did not have the rules in place at the time to do so. I believe such rules are now in place.


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