You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

Looking back: Arrests, injuries and $84,000 in damage followed Michigan's 1989 national title

By Kyle Austin


Page A3 of the April 4, 1989 edition of The Ann Arbor News

The last time Michigan won a men's basketball national championship, the situation in Ann Arbor turned ugly fast.

An estimated crowd of more than 7,000 fans took to the South University area on the night of April 4, 1989 following Michigan’s national title win over Seton Hall. The crowd broke windows, damaging cars and businesses and caused multiple injuries according to Ann Arbor News archives. Police estimated the total damage at $84,000.

The Wolverines will play for their second national title tonight, when they takes on Louisville, 9:23 p.m. in Atlanta. Police plan an increased presence in the South University area and elsewhere around Ann Arbor, with help from neighboring police jurisdictions.


There was a similar presence Saturday night following Michigan’s national semifinal win over Syracuse, when thousands poured into the South University area and the diag. That crowd stayed civil, with no major issues, though police reported four separate couch fires around the city. Police lined the South University area streets in fluorescent vests and crowd control equipment.

But 24 years ago, following a national title win, the police were no match for a scene that soon turned violent.

According to Ann Arbor News archives, by the time the crowd was dispersed around 3 a.m., “it looked like a tornado had ripped down South University” the News reported.

Rioters damaged cars and businesses, broke windows and ripped out street lights and signs. One taxi was spray-painted and flipped over. The awning of the Logos Bookstore was ripped down and part of its roof collapsed.

“This is just unbelievable - that intelligent people can act like animals,” Logos owner Tom Dobberstein told the News.


Eight arrests were made, four for disorderly conduct, two for malicious destruction of property, one for felonious assault and one for drunken driving. One student suffered a broken pelvis after being hit by a car, and other students suffered minor injuries from flying objects.

Around 50 police officers were on hand that night. They opted not to use teargas for fear of inciting more destruction.

“Given the spontaneity of what occurred, I doubt we could have done anything different,” Ann Arbor Police Chief William J. Corbett told the News. “We did everything we could.”

The aftermath of the riot devolved into finger pointing. Area business owners met with police and the mayor the following week, and publicly blamed them for not having a large enough presence in the area. The police, in turn, blamed the University for not controlling students, and eventually sent Michigan a bill for damage incurred.

The violence following the 1989 title game followed another ugly scene two days earlier. After Michigan’s national semifinal win over Illinois, five arrests were made after a crowd threw bottles, tore down street posts and smashed the windshield of an ambulance. The estimated crowd that night was between 2,500 and 3,000, and was cleared out three-and-a-half hours after the game.

Kyle Austin covers sports for He can be reached at or 734-623-2535. Follow him on Twitter @KAustin_AA.



Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 3:57 a.m.

Where are the riots at tonight?


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 1:20 a.m.

That was the 1980's, when Detroit won the world series in 1984 look what happen--it made the front cover of Time Mag, lol. Cop cars were burn vs couches today. A repeat will not happen, not on the same scale.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 10:44 p.m.

One of my students told me she was out in that mob with a bunch of her friends and someone tried to carry her off. Luckily, her friends were part of a fraternity and quickly stopped that nonsense. She said her perception and that of those around her were that the ones acting like idiots and vandalizing things were not students at all.

Kyle Austin

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

Funny you should say that non-students were responsible for most of the vandalization and violence, Macabre Sunset, because that's exactly what police said to the News in 1989. I didn't see that comment substantiated, though, by saying who was arrested.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 10:26 p.m.

according to one inflation calculator I found that $84,000 in 1989 would have the damage power of $157,273.74 to day. So i suggest that is the starting point for a new record.


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 9:37 p.m.

Why would any rational person participate in something like this? Because of basketball? Over a win?Ridiculous. Have fun in the rain you dumb animals.


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 1:21 a.m.

Its not going to rain


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 8:29 p.m.

This is sad, im sure we can do a lot better this year. Here's to hoping we break 100,000!


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 8:26 p.m.

Wasn't there a picture of a person hanging from a traffic light???


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 1:22 a.m.

The "best" photos are never shown again


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 8:12 p.m.

Two takeaways from this article: 1) Kids nowadays won't be able to climb up on top of an awning as most of them can't do a chinup anymore. 2) It is nice the city had a spine and gave UM a bill. I bet that wouldn't happen now. UM probably didn't pay it though.

Tom Joad

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 8:05 p.m.

Maynard St. was quite chaotic on that night, as patrons flooded out from Dooley's Bar (now Scorekeepers). The entire block was jam-packed when some clown through a trash can through Jacobsen's Department Store window, and a couple of female manikins smartly outfitted in the latest fashion were tossed into the crowd where they were passed to and fro like a beach ball. Crowds fueled with alcohol and amateur-hour revelry quickly degenerate into opportunistic wanton destruction was what I learned that night.

Soft Paw

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 7:21 p.m.

I was on South U. in 1989, and there were lots of students, and others, celebrating in the street. Everyone was happy, and mainly peaceful, at least at first. I left early, before things turned really bad. My recollection is that some blamed most of the trouble on overzealous police work (tear gas, etc.).

Usual Suspect

Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 1:10 p.m.

There are always some who blame events, including their own misdeeds, on "over zealous police work." It's usually in the form of, for example, a habitual speeder complaining, "Don't the police have anything better to do than write speeding tickets?" as though they had a budgetary concern over the practice. I was also there. There was no tear gas. I don't recall anybody saying there was tear gas. Believe me, if there was tear gas, you would have heard about it from those who experienced it.

Kyle Austin

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 10:55 p.m.

In the coverage of the event, police claimed to not use tear gas because they thought it would have further incited people. But who knows how true that is.

Paula Gardner

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 7:05 p.m.

I was working the late shift as a police reporter in Ypsilanti on these nights in 1989. I remember hearing the chaos unfold on the police scanner and could not believe that my fellow UM students would be prompting the kind of fearful request for immediate help from ambulance drivers and police. This was just a few years after the nation mocked Detroit and the infamous Bubba Helms for burning In that city after the World Series. I'm still incredulous that sports victory generates violence. Hoping for much better tonight in Ann Arbor.

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 7:27 p.m.

Wow. I was really surprised to read this. It's definitely the 'mob mentality' thing at play. Maybe on a slightly rainy Monday night things will be different...? Here's to hoping.

tom swift jr.

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 7:01 p.m.

I understand that Art Van's had a run on couches today.


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 5:58 p.m.

Ann Arbor is gonna burn...I'm staying away.

Martha Cojelona Gratis

Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

please do.. for at least one year


Mon, Apr 8, 2013 : 5:52 p.m.

I just cannot understand why people act so destructively when their team wins. It makes absolutely no sense and just makes the teams fans and hometown seem absolutely ridiculous. Come on people, don't be stupid this year! Be happy with a win and celebrate responsibly or take a loss with grace.


Tue, Apr 9, 2013 : 1:24 a.m.

One word, Alcohol.