Michigan athletic director: I never apologized to Chris Webber on school's behalf

By Kirkland Crawford

So, about that apology.

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel released a statement to ESPN on Friday, denying that he apologized on behalf of the university to former Fab Five star Chris Webber for the fallout from the NCAA investigation that led to the school's decade-long disassociation period from Webber.

"I enjoyed the conversation with Chris when we met several years ago," Manuel said. "But I can assure you I made no apology to Chris and, for those who may be curious, I never asked him to apologize to the University of Michigan. I wish Chris nothing but the best, and I'm happy that he's being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame."

Webber, who will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday, told ESPN in a television interview that Manuel offered regret on behalf of U-M.

"I was told by the athletic director at the University of Michigan that he was sorry," Webber said to ESPN. "And he wasn't even there at the time (I was playing). He told me that he did his research, and that he needs to apologize. His exact words (were) he needs 'to apologize to the 18-year-old Chris Webber because we didn't protect him.' "

Manuel, AD at Michigan since 2016, worked for the school during Webber's time as a college basketball star in Ann Arbor. Before that time, Manuel played on some of the final Bo Schembechler teams at U-M.

It was Webber's two seasons in college that led to the Ed Martin scandal, which led to the NCAA stripping wins from the basketball program, including the banners for the Final Four appearances, Webber pleading guilty for lying to a grand jury about some of the money he got from Martin and not being allowed to be around the university from 2003-13.

Since then, Webber's relationship with the school — and, at least in the public, with his Fab Five teammates — been strained. Webber returned to the campus for his first public appearance as an honorary captain for the football team in 2018.

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