On Sunday March 13 ESPN aired their highly-anticipated documentary on The University Of Michigan’s “Fab 5” a basketball team lead by five black freshman (Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson) who brought a hip-hop sensibility to American sports.
In addition to reliving their inspirational (albeit disappointing) run at a national championships in 1992 and 1993, the program put a spotlight on the issue of student athletes not being compensated. Retired NBA star Chris Webber lamented as a student athlete that he was broke while his Michigan jersey sold in the campus store for $75. Dr. Boyce Watkins weighed in on the topic for AOL BlackVoices:
The most intriguing aspect of the Fab Five special on ESPN was not their exploits on the basketball court (which were amazing), it was the conversation about money. When these five young men stepped onto the court for the University of Michigan, they instantly became cash cows for their universities. Sales of University of Michigan merchandise went from $1.5 million per year to over $10 million per year shortly after their first season. Jalen Rose, one of the members of the Fab Five, mentioned seeing that Nike had released a sneaker named after the group, and they regularly found their academic schedules being interrupted with trips around the world to promote a brand that was making everyone rich except for their own families.