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The Case For Freeing Michigan* And Others From Faux History

Chris Webber's 1993 national championship game blunder happened. It did. (Susan Ragan/AP) Chris Webber's 1993 national championship game blunder happened. It did. (Susan Ragan/AP)

The one-page notes sheet was dropped softly by an NCAA staffer into a pile next to my laptop atop about 30 other transcripts from all the media fun Friday at the Georgia Dome. I'm not sure what prompted me to look at it, as I was in the middle of something else, but something called out to me subconsciously and, in retrospect, fortuitously.

I took one look at the first bullet point on Michigan's Final Four team notes and laughed.

"Michigan is making its seventh (fifth*) Final Four appearance and first since 1993*."

Just to make the exercise in linguistic and actual absurdity even clearer, above that first bullet-point is a simple "*Later vacated."

Thanks, NCAA. I couldn't have figured that out without you.

Still, chuckling, I made my way through the next bullet, which informed me that Michigan is making the 24th (19th*) NCAA tournament appearance in the school's history. The Wolverines have an overall NCAA tournament record of 47-22. Wait, sorry, it's 40-18*.

Two lines later, we are told that Michigan and Syracuse have never met in the NCAA tournament, but the Wolverines are 5-8, err, 4-7* all-time against the Orange.

C'mon, NCAA. Stop. Just stop. This is beyond stupid.

If you want to denote that Michigan was deemed ineligible for certain games or certain seasons, fine. Footnote it. The games happened. And more importantly, the NCAA tournament appearances happened. I swear, I saw them. I was in college when Chris Webber traveled and the ref spared him only to have him then call a timeout Michigan didn't have. It's one of the most famous moments in NCAA tournament history, and according to you, it doesn't exist? Nothing I saw for two years of Michigan basketball counts?

I'm all for catching and exposing cheaters, to whatever extent you get worked up over the NCAA's elaborate but often arcane and outmoded rules being ignored. I'm also for historical clarity and context, and if a team breaks the rules, they should be labeled as such. But to pretend the events didn't happen, so you have to farcically write notes like the above? Whoever thinks this is a good idea needs a swift kick in the asterisk.

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