Michigan has suspended coach Juwan Howard for the remainder of the regular season, Yahoo Sports first reported Monday evening.
Howard will miss the Wolverines’ five remaining regular season games as the team attempts to secure an NCAA Tournament bid and play its way off the bubble. In his absence, associate head coach Phil Martelli will serve as Michigan’s acting head coach, while director of basketball operations Chris Hunter will temporarily fulfill the third assistant coaching position.
The suspension follows Sunday’s incident in which Howard took a swipe at a Wisconsin assistant coach in the postgame handshake line, inciting a full-out brawl between the two sides.
Howard will also be fined $40,000.
“After taking time to reflect on all that happened, I realize how unacceptable both my actions and words were, and how they affected so many,” Howard said in a statement released Monday evening. “I am truly sorry. I am offering my sincerest apology to my players and their families, my staff, my family and the Michigan fans around the world. I would like to personally apologize to Wisconsin’s Assistant Coach Joe Krabbenhoft and his family, too.
“Lastly, I speak a lot about being a Michigan man and representing the University of Michigan with class and pride, I did not do that, nor did I set the right example in the right way for my student-athletes. I will learn from my mistake and this mistake will never happen again. No excuses!”
After Sunday’s transgression, Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel released the following statement:
“I am aware of and watched the end of our men’s basketball game. There is no excuse for any of our staff or student-athletes to get into a physical altercation with others regardless of instigating factors. I reached out and apologized to Chris McIntosh and President Coleman has reached out to UQ Chancellor Blank to apologize for the totally unacceptable behavior. We will review the situation more thoroughly and work with the Big Ten Conference as they determine their disciplinary actions and will determine if any further disciplinary actions are needed.”
In his press conference after the game, Howard did not issue an apology, instead doubling down on his sentiment.
“I addressed it with (Gard) that I will remember that because of that timeout,” Howard said. “For someone to touch me, I think that was very uncalled for him to touch me, as we were verbalizing and communicating with one another. So that’s what ended up happening. And that’s what escalated it.”
While Big Ten rules state that disciplinary fines will “not exceed $10,000” and suspensions for “no more than two contests,” Michigan worked alongside the Big Ten to amplify the punishment, extending the length of the suspension.
In addition to Howard, two Wolverines will be suspended one game each: Freshman forward Moussa Diabate and sophomore forward Terrance Williams II, who both appeared to throw punches during Sunday’s brawl. The suspensions are effective immediately, meaning Diabate and Williams will miss Wednesday’s contest against Rutgers.
On the Wisconsin side of things, guard Jahcobi Neath will receive a one-game suspension, while coach Greg Gard will be fined $10k. Meanwhile, assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft, who was also involved in the altercation, will not receive any sort of punishment.
“Big Ten Conference coaches and student-athletes are expected to display the highest level of sportsmanship conduct,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren released in a statement. “I am grateful for the partnership with Michigan Athletics Director, Warde Manuel and Wisconsin Athletics Director, Chris McIntosh. Our expectation is that the incident yesterday will provide our coaches and student-athletes with the opportunity to reflect, learn and move forward in a manner that demonstrates decorum and leadership on and off of the court.”
This is an ongoing story and will be updated.