The Michigan men’s basketball team has suspended senior point guard Zavier Simpson for one game, coach Juwan Howard announced on Monday.
“While we are disappointed with what has transpired with Zavier, we know there are always lessons to learn and grow from,” Howard said in a statement. “We take these matters and consequences very seriously. Moving forward, we will continue to handle this matter appropriately within our program and basketball family.”
Simpson informed the team of his suspension via text message on Sunday night, according to senior center Jon Teske. He will not travel with the team to Lincoln.
While the exact cause of the suspension is currently unclear, it was labeled a “violation of team policy.” Brendan Quinn of The Athletic reported that it is related to a weekend traffic incident.
The Wolverines will now be without the nation’s assists leader when they travel to Nebraska on Tuesday night. The length of the suspension will be “re-evaluated” following Tuesday’s game, according to Howard.
Howard declined to share a timeline of events, noting it was going to be kept “in-house.”
Mired in the program’s longest losing streak since 2015, Michigan sits in sole possession of 12th place in the Big Ten standings. When the Wolverines attempt to right the ship on Tuesday, they will now be forced to do so without a player who’s given them at least 37 minutes in five of the last six games, leaving a major void in the rotation.
Beyond Simpson’s ball-handling capabilities, Michigan is losing its loudest on-court voice. Simpson’s leadership has been lauded throughout his tenure in Ann Arbor and, most recently, Howard has made a habit of likening him to Tom Brady in that regard.
On Tuesday, the Wolverines will be tasked with filling the void. Howard, Teske and junior guard Eli Brooks all voiced a desire to take a collective approach in doing so.
Though Howard told reporters on Monday afternoon that he hasn’t selected a starting lineup replacement, sophomore guard David DeJulius seems to be the likeliest candidate to start in Simpson’s place against the Cornhuskers.
Tuesday’s game will be the first time the Wolverines’ starting backcourt does not include Simpson in more than two years.
“(Simpson) was disappointed for many reasons,” Howard said. “Overall, he knows the team is going to miss him. He knows he let his teammates down.”