Team will be eligible for 2004 tournaments

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Michigan basketball team has won its appeal and will be eligible to play in the 2004 NCAA Tournament, according to reports.

The school has been informed that its appeal of the NCAA's postseason ban was successful, sources at the university have told the Detroit Free Press and The Associated Press.

An announcement will be made Thursday afternoon. The decision to overturn the ban handed down in May was made by the NCAA's infractions appeals committee, according to the sources.

Michigan spokesman Bruce Madej declined comment when reached by AP. Coach Tommy Amaker, athletic director Bill Martin and NCAA spokeswoman Kay Hawes did not immediately return phone messages from AP.

The decision was made by the NCAA's infractions appeals committee, which overturned the postseason-related portion of the infractions committee's May ruling, the newspaper said.

Amaker had been calling the appeal a long shot all along, according to a Detroit News report.

"Those appeals don't usually have a high rate of success," Amaker said in May. "But I do feel it was right to fight on behalf of our current student-athletes."

Michigan's successful appeal concludes all NCAA procedures regarding the scandal involving Ed Martin, who died earlier this year. Martin had been accused of making illicit cash payments totaling $616,000 to former players Chris Webber, Maurice Taylor, Louis Bullock and Robert Traylor.

The ban on participation in the NCAA Tournament and National Invitation Tournament was the only NCAA sanction Michigan appealed. Other sanctions, including four years of probation and the loss of one scholarship in each of four seasons, remain in effect.

Expectations for last season's Michigan team were low because of
an apparent lack of talent and motivation. The Wolverines lost
their first six games but staged a remarkable turnaround under second-year coach Amaker, winning 13 straight games for the first time since 1987-88.

Michigan finished with its best season in five years, going
17-13 overall and 10-6 in the Big Ten and earning a first-round bye
in the conference tournament. The 2003-04 Wolverines are expected
to contend for an NCAA Tournament berth.

Michigan officials hoped the penalties they imposed on their
program in November 2002 would appease the NCAA.

Those penalties included a postseason ban for 2003; forfeiture
of 112 regular-season and tournament victories from five seasons,
plus its victory in the 1992 NCAA semifinal; returning $450,000 to
the NCAA for money earned from the NCAA tournament during those
years; and placing itself on two years' probation.

It also removed four banners from Crisler Arena: for the 1992 and 1993 Final Fours, 1997 NIT title and 1998 Big Ten tournament title.

Martin, a self-described Wolverines basketball booster, pleaded
guilty in 2002 to conspiracy to launder money and told federal
prosecutors he took gambling money, combined it with other funds
and lent $616,000 to Webber and the other players. He was awaiting
sentencing when he died in February at age 69 of a pulmonary