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Michigan player’s grandmother says she spurned under-the-table deals

March 20, 1997

DETROIT (AP) _ The grandmother and guardian of Michigan basketball player Robert Traylor said at least two recruiters offered her money and a ``no-work″ job if she would persuade him to attend their schools.

But Jessie Carter told The Detroit News in an interview published today that Traylor chose Michigan, which offered him only a scholarship and a chance to crack the starting lineup.

``The only thing Michigan offered Robert was an education,″ said Carter, 65. ``I even told (coach Steve) Fisher, `I don’t want my baby going to a school where he was going to sit on the bench. I want him to play.′

``And you know what Fisher told me? `Miz Carter, I’m not going to tell you he’s going to start, I’m not going to tell you that he’s going to have so many minutes in a game,′ he said, `but whatever Robert wants, if he comes to Michigan, he’s got to earn it.‴

Carter did not identify the recruiters or say which schools they represented in pursuing Traylor three years ago. She said she would identify them if the NCAA told her its source for allegations that a booster gave her $20,000 cash and a big-screen television.

Michigan officials said last week that a basketball booster with close ties to Carter and Traylor was involved in violations of NCAA rules.

The booster, identified as Eddie Martin of Detroit, frequently visited the family while Traylor was in high school and at Michigan, but no improper offers came from or through him, Carter said.

But while colleges were recruiting Traylor, a coach told Carter he would get her grandson a truck if he chose that school _ and, she said, ``I’d have a job making $900 every two weeks licking envelopes, putting stamps on ’em, there in my home. Nine hundred dollars is good, too, I have never made $900 every two weeks, for nothing.″

Last summer, Carter said, Jeff Long of the Michigan athletic department came to her home and told her an unidentified source had accused her of accepting $20,000 in cash and a $2,000 big-screen TV.

Carter said she showed Long a document showing she and her husband had taken out a small home-equity mortgage loan to buy the television. She acknowledged that Traylor signed for the TV and paid the balance due with $1,000 in cash when it was delivered, but said she had left the money with her grandson and he was the only one at home.

None of the recent public allegations of misconduct within the Wolverines program _ including cash payments and gifts to current and former players, underage drinking and marijuana use _ have mentioned $20,000 changing hands, The News said.

Long said Wednesday that he was investigating allegations presented to Michigan by the NCAA, which did not identify its source.

Although not currently under investigation by the NCAA, Traylor’s use of a custom-built Chevrolet Suburban costing $47,906 also has been the focus of recent news reports. Carter told The News that her daughter, former women’s professional player Lydia Johnson, leased the vehicle for the family’s use.

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