Michigan wants Webber to pay legal fees

Updated: September 18, 2003, 10:36 AM ET
Associated Press

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan officials asked a federal judge to order NBA star Chris Webber to reimburse the school $695,000 for legal fees and losses from NCAA penalties.

Board of Regents chairman Lawrence Deitch and Marvin Krislov, the university's general counsel, made the request in letters to U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds.

The letters were among dozens Edmunds received before the Tuesday court hearing in which Webber, a member of Michigan's "Fab Five" from 1991-93 who now plays for the Sacramento Kings, was to be sentenced for criminal contempt.

On Tuesday, Edmunds postponed Webber's sentencing for two years while he devotes 300 hours during the next two summers to a literacy program at Butzel Middle School in Detroit.

Under a plea agreement, Webber admitted he lied to a grand jury when he testified in August 2000 that he couldn't remember repaying booster Eddie Martin about $38,200 in 1994.

Martin admitted giving a total of $616,000 to four former Michigan players, including $280,000 to Webber.

Martin pleaded guilty in May 2002 to charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was awaiting sentencing when he died in February of a pulmonary embolism.

In a Sept. 10 letter to Edmunds, Krislov asked that Webber's probation include a requirement to compensate the university for $350,000 in legal fees, $325,000 in tournament earnings returned to the NCAA as part of its self-imposed penalties and a $19,477 grant to Webber.

"Such a payment would reflect Mr. Webber's long history of deceit, would counterbalance the harm caused the university by that deceit, and have the added benefit of discouraging other student athletes from making similar errors," Krislov wrote.

In an Aug. 7 letter to Edmunds, Deitch wrote that Webber "has never, to my knowledge, ever publicly expressed even a minor feeling of remorse for his conduct which brought both shame and financial loss to the university."

Edmunds has not acted on the university's request. She had no comment on the letters, which were among about 65 released by the U.S. Attorney's Office with her approval, her clerk said.

The university's request was irrelevant to Webber's case, said his attorney, Steven Fishman.

"If the university really wants a public accounting of the money expended because of Chris Webber, as opposed to the money generated because of Chris Webber (while he played at Michigan), I'd love to see the bottom line on that balance sheet," Fishman told The Detroit News.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press