Webber violated amateur status

Updated: March 2, 2004, 1:30 PM ET
Associated Press

BEVERLY HILLS, Mich. -- Chris Webber's high school refused Monday to forfeit three state championship basketball titles he helped win, a day after the Michigan High School Athletic Association ruled he should not have been allowed to play because of his relationship with a former Michigan booster.

The Sacramento Kings star violated his amateur standing and was ineligible during the time he played at Detroit Country Day, the governing body said Sunday. The association had left it up to the school to decide whether to forfeit games in which Webber played, including three state championships.

Country Day Headmaster Gerald Hansen said there was no trustworthy basis to support the MHSAA's claim that Webber was ineligible.

"The assertion is based upon unproven innuendo, suspicion and speculation," said Hansen, reading from a prepared statement. "Because Country Day has been given no credible evidence that Mr. Webber violated his amateur status while a student here, the school felt obligated to fight to retain the championships and to protect the school's interests."

The association's executive director, Jack Roberts, urged the school to forfeit the championships it won from 1989-91 with Webber and recommended the executive committee strike the team and Webber's performance from its basketball records. However, the executive committee decided only to delete the references to Webber.

"I suggested to them that they voluntarily forfeit," Roberts said Monday. "That would be the most appropriate."

Roberts said he wasn't surprised by the school's refusal to forfeit the titles.

"We were disappointed, of course," Roberts said of the news conference. "We were most disappointed in the tone."

Ed Martin, who died last year, said he gave Webber and his family $280,000 from 1988-93, a period extending from Webber's freshman year of high school through his sophomore season at Michigan. Webber left for the NBA after helping the Wolverines reach the NCAA title game in both his college seasons.

Webber was sentenced to community service last summer after pleading guilty to criminal contempt for lying to a grand jury about his dealings with Martin.

Webber is expected to return to the Kings' lineup for the first time this season Tuesday. He has been out with a knee injury most of the season and missed the last eight games while on a suspension, which included three games for his guilty plea.

A message left with Webber's agent Monday was not immediately returned.

Country Day disagreed with the MHSAA that Webber's amateur standing was violated, and association officials said there was no evidence that Country Day officials were aware of the violations at the time they occurred.

Webber was third in the state in career scoring with 2,628 points, first in games played with 107, tied for first for free throws in championship play with 14-for-16 shooting, and second in rebounds in a championship game with 22.

Martin said he gave $616,000 in illicit benefits to Webber, Robert Traylor, Maurice Taylor and Louis Bullock -- who all starred at Michigan.

The MHSAA found that Webber and Traylor violated amateur status rules. Officials from Detroit Murray-Wright, where Traylor played high school basketball, voluntarily forfeited every game won during Traylor's senior season. Murray-Wright won the Class A state championship in 1994, Traylor's junior year, but no link to Martin was found until his senior year.

Michigan imposed sanctions on itself because of the scandal, including a one-year postseason ban, and forfeited 112 regular-season and tournament victories from five seasons. Michigan also removed four banners from Crisler Arena: for the 1992 and 1993 Final Fours, 1997 NIT title and 1998 Big Ten tournament title.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press