The passing of new Name, Image, and Likeness rules for NCAA athletes has brought back up debates over the punishments for superstars and programs who had violated similar rules in years past. The most prominent have been Reggie Bush, who had his Heisman Trophy taken years after it was revealed that he receiver impermissible benefits, and banners for Michigan basketball‘s back-to-back Final Fours during the “Fab Five” era with Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson.
Those five joined the Wolverines, and immediately transformed college basketball as freshmen. During the 1992 NCAA Tournament, Michigan became the first team to play in a national championship with an All-Freshman starting lineup. They fell to Duke that year, and North Carolina in 1993.
Chris Webber departed the team after his sophomore season, as one of the nation’s best forwards. He was taken No. 1 overall by the Orlando Magic in 1993, and was flipped to the Golden State Warriors for a package including Penny Hardaway and first-round picks. Years later, it came out that Webber accepted $200,000 in impermissible benefits while at Michigan, making him ineligible. Michigan had to take down the two Final Four banners.
On Thursday, in light of the NCAA’s new rules around NIL, Webber called for the banners to return to the Crisler Center. “Ummmmmmm soooo …whoever has the key please hit me up. I need that key.. you know… the one to the secret room with the Banners…” Webber cheekily tweeted. His superstar former teammate Jalen Rose, now a top NBA analyst at ESPN, agrees.
“I personally … have been vilified. My character has been assassinated.”@jalenrose opened up about what he experienced following NCAA's sanctions against the Fab 5, saying “it would mean everything to me” if they were reinstated. pic.twitter.com/vVqvVuUs3c
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) July 2, 2021
Not only has Webber had to live with the consequences that many argue were unfair even before this NIL ruling, but Rose says he, head coach Steve Fisher, and others are still paying for it as well.
“I personally, as a player and a member of the media, have been vilified. My character has been assassinated. And when you put my bulletin up on that screen, it should say ‘Member of the collegiate Hall of Fame,'” Rose said on Friday morning.
“It should also say The Fab Five’s numbers are retired in Ann Arbor. Steve Fisher deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. He has one championship and three Final Four appearances. That’s as many as some of the great coaches right now.”
Juwan Howard is now the head coach at Michigan, and the school has more openly acknowledged and embraced the Fab Five. Webber and Rose have mended a once-broken relationship in recent years. He says a full reinstatement, and the return of the banners, would “mean everything” to him.
“It would mean everything to me, especially while Juwan Howard is the head coach of the team. One of the things I decided to do as an adult, I was going to let any pain from my collegiate experience go once Juwan became the head coach at Michigan. I’ve been a season ticket holder, sitting at a Michigan basketball game, looking up at the rafters, knowing two banners that I helped earn, aren’t even up there. I get a chance to watch Big Ten basketball each week and see players get their number retired. And I know our haters are going to say, ‘Well, y’all didn’t win the championship.’ Hey, stupid, you don’t need to win a championship to get your number retired or be in the Hall of Fame. And our group deserves both.”
It’s a powerful statement from one of the leaders of one of the most influential college basketball teams of all-time, championship or not. Had these NIL rules been in place in the early 1990s, Chris Webber and the Fab Five would have legally made way more than the $200,000 that has cost him such a big part of his college legacy. The NCAA should do the right thing and make people like Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, and the Fab Five, and on the football side, Reggie Bush whole again.