The Fab Five

December 2, 2011

Political Theory


Jalen, Chris, Juwan, Jimmy and Ray. Ask any fan or student who attends or has attended the University of Michigan what these names mean to them. They will immediatly connote the Fab Five: the 1991 Michigan basketball recruiting class. This team of basketball players were not only highly gifted, but they were the bad boys of college basketball. They were known for their heavy amounts of trash talk on the court and bad boy image. Their image was extremely marketable, as Nike profited off of the sales of their jerseys and other “fab five” merchandice. And this is where the controversy begins.

The fab five merchandice was highly profitable to Nike and the University of Michigan. However, the players, being that they were student athletes, were not aloud to have a single dollar of the profit. Their names were being marketed and they were not entitled to any endorsement deal. They way in which this is posed seems highly unfair. In fact, Jalen Rose raises this point in the highest rated documentary by ESPN Films entitled “The Fab Five”

With this point in mind, the fab five is famous for the scandal with booster Ed Martin. The basketball program faced multiple self imposed sanctions and sanctions by the NCAA as a result of Martin illegally paying these students athletes. The athletic department ultimately ended up suspending the program for two years in addition to vacating their wins with the alleged guilty players. The NCAA doubled their probation period, and the program, for quite some time was never the same again. Due to the corrupt actions of the players, the highly lucrative and beloved basketball program fell apart.

Perhaps this was the compensation for not receiving any of the fab five merchandice profits? It is of great debate as to whether or not student athletes should be eligible to be paid and/or recieve endorsement deals. In the case of the fab five, it seems difficult to refute the fact that other people were profiting off of their image. While thes students are amateur athletes, their brands are everywhere for sale. They are a gold mine and generate millions of dollars for their respective schools.

In 2013, the University of Michigan will be getting their Final Four Banners back, but they will forever remain controversial. Following this incident, and throughout the recent debate in college sports, many believe the athletes should recieve some sort of monetary benefit for their hard work and excellence on and off the field. Or at least, the eligibilty for endorsement deals. In certain regards, it could be beneficial to both the player and the school he or she is affiliated with, but on the other hand could ruin the purity of college athletics. As the program continues to rebuild and rise in the polls, one can’t help but remember the last successful team this University has seen: the fabulous five.

Regardless, an excellent case of dirty hands is evident here. How do you think this issue relates to Machiavelli’s Dirty Hands?

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4 Comments on “The Fab Five”

  1. jrsmyth177 Says:

    Like many NCAA violations, I think the boosters are the ones with the dirty hands. They are the ones who do something immoral to benefit their alma mater. They offer many athletes and recruits money, cars, houses, and so on in order to convince them to play for their school. The boosters know that they are doing something wrong, but they do not care as long as no one finds out and their team wins. This year we saw a terrible case of this at The University of Miami with Nevin Shapiro. He gave thousands of dollars to athletes, paid for an abortion for one athlete, and invited all of them to his VIP section at a local club. These actions were all immoral under NCAA rules, but Shapiro thought that a winning record for his team outweighed the immoral actions. He knew that what he was doing would benefit his team’s record. This also goes for Ed Martin and the Fab Five. Martin dirtied his hands in order to benefit the University of Michigan’s basketball team. For boosters, winning is more important than the integrity of their school, that is why their hands are dirty.

    As for paying college athletes, I do not think we should ever do this. The athletic programs just need to do a better job in disciplining their athletes. Also, the athletes need to be able to say no to boosters. Athletes get a scholarship, which is good enough. Athletes just need to be smarter.

  2. jillburnette9 Says:

    I definitely believe that the students should be allowed to make a profit off of any merchandise that is being sold in their name. It is not fair that company can produce products and make a heavy profit off of another individual’s name and talent, yet the individual can not have a single penny that their name is earning. I think the situation would be different in the students were getting paid to play for the team, but then again how different is being paid to play a sport for a college than receiving a scholarship to play? Although when a student receives a scholarship the money they are technically being “paid” goes directly toward their schooling, but who is to say that if the school paid students in cash they wouldn’t use the money for the same reason? I did think it’s a bit more controversial if the NCAA allowed colleges to recruit and pay students to play for their school, and that it would probably be in the best interests of all to stay away from those types of deals but I do not think that companies should be allowed to produce and sell products using an individual’s name and not give that person any money from the profit, especially if those students are of legal age.

  3. mrau188 Says:

    The boosters are the one’s here with the dirty hands. They are the ones that perpetuate these problems for college programs across the country. They are for the most part extremely wealthy proud alumni of the schools that they are donating back to. They know that everyone can have a point where they can be bought out for, it is human nature. They would bribe kids to come to their schools with flashy offers of giving these kids the taste of a life as a professional athlete. This false hope however is illegal and needs to be regulated and that is where the ncaa comes into the picture. They are there to monitor the situation and make sure that we are following the rules correctly. However sometimes things can go under the radar and universities can get away with breaking the rules. But this all comes back to the issue of whether or not we should pay our college athletes. I have no problem with it allow the universities to start cutting checks.

  4. jgurwitch Says:

    This article really brings up a lot of issues that have been going on in college sports for a while. College sports are supposed to be seen as pure and respectable more so than professional athletes because these athletes are not playing for any money. At the same time, it is still a job that they are keeping up and it entails a lot of pain and stress on their bodies/daily lives. With that being said I think that although there is a case of Dirty Hands here, there should be no true issues to it. These athletes for the most part know which schools they want to play at and will choose there regardless of the extra perks. Sure some schools benefit because they can give out some cash and get the better players, but those teams are all in the same ballpark. Some people could try and argue that schools with less money/perks would be able to get these athletes, but the reality of this is that those students probably would not be interested in those schools anyways. The ones with prosperous and successful basketball teams are the ones these players want to go to. These schools are all relatively similar in what they have to offer. Michigan, Duke, UNC, UT..all schools with successful programs and money. So if they offer a little extra incentive, it is more of a premature payment to what these players would be getting after the year or two until they go to be professionals.

    Schools get in trouble for giving extra incentive but they are all trying to build dynasties to become the best team they can be. There are only a select few players that deserve this extra amount but it is worth it since they are in fact special players. I believe there is a rule next year that the players will be able to earn some money because a lot of these players are not well off and this extra amount can really help them or their families. Sure most get full tuition paid for and “some more,” but the some more should be able to have a little extra too.

    Colleges are just like professional teams. The wealthier teams get the better players and win games. That is okay because everyone understands that is how it works in the pros. Colleges should be able to utilize this same rule and be able to dominate if they have more to offer. The appeal is a big part of it and not being able to give the appeal can really hurt a team. It might be seen as Dirty Hands to the schools that cannot partake in this activity, but not everyone is going to be in the same boat. These players inevitably choose the schools they want, but when there is a toss up between one or two, it becomes a bidding war, and the highest bidder should really be able to win.

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