ANN ARBOR — Maurice Taylor and Louis Bullock are eager to reconnect with Michigan.
In their first interviews about the Ed Martin booster scandal, both former players told the Associated Press they hope to re-establish a relationship with the university now that a decade-long dissociation ordered by the NCAA has ended.
Taylor and Bullock said they both regret choices they made as young men that ended up staining the school and stunting the basketball program.
What about Chris Webber? The public may have to wait for him to publish his book. But as of Wednesday, Webber, Taylor, and Bullock all have the option of renewing their relationship with the Wolverines.
Athletic director Dave Brandon insisted the door is open for all three former players. Bullock and Taylor, at least, say they plan to take advantage of the invitation.
"This morning, I felt really good about the dissociation being over and having the opportunity to reunite with the University of Michigan," Taylor said. "I'm excited to talk to Mr. Brandon and coach [John] Beilein. While I had some success in the NBA, there was a void in my life because of the circumstances. I had three of the best years of my life there, and I love that school and all that it stands for."
The NCAA forced Michigan to dissociate from Webber, Taylor, Bullock, and the late Robert Traylor for a decade because a federal investigation revealed the now-deceased Martin gave them more than $600,000 when they were students. Traylor died in 2011.
"When each one of us took money or gifts from Ed, long before we were in college, we were looking through innocent eyes," Taylor said in an interview Wednesday. "We weren't trying to hurt Michigan. I think it was a little harsh that we were punished for such a long period of time for what we did as kids."
Bullock said he accepted money from Martin because he simply thought everyone was doing it.
"When I was 18, I thought that's just how life was on college campuses," Bullock told AP.
"I wish it didn't happen, but my parents taught me to admit it when you do something wrong and accept the consequences."
Bullock said he simply blocked out the situation while playing professionally in Europe until taking this past season off.
While Taylor said one of his aunts was counting down the days until the dissociation ended, Bullock said he had lost track of the time.
"It was easier for me to basically forget about it than it was for C-Webb, Mo and Rob because they were in the NBA," said Bullock, who lives in Maryland and is contemplating ending his playing career. "I was off in Europe and I was the guy who was kind of forgotten about."
Brandon said he has never spoken to Webber, Taylor or Bullock.
He declined to say whether each would have to apologize for what they were accused of doing to be welcomed back.
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