Michigan coach Juwan Howard suspended for remainder of regular season

After slapping a Wisconsin men’s basketball assistant coach on the head in the handshake line following his team’s loss on Sunday, Michi...


After slapping a Wisconsin men’s basketball assistant coach on the head in the handshake line following his team’s loss on Sunday, Michigan coach Juwan Howard was suspended for five games – the remainder of the regular season — and fined $40,000, the Big Ten Conference announced Monday. He will be able to return for the conference tournament.

In a statement Monday, Howard apologized for the first time.

“After taking time to reflect on everything that happened, I realize how unacceptable my actions and words were, and how they affected so many,” Howard said in the statement. “I am really sorry.”

Michigan forwards Terrance Williams II and Moussa Diabaté, who were involved in the fracas, were suspended for one game each, the conference said. Wisconsin coach Greg Gard was fined $10,000 for his role in the altercation but was not suspended. Wisconsin guard Jahcobi Neath has been suspended for one game.

“Big Ten conference coaches and student-athletes are expected to demonstrate the highest standard of athletic conduct,” Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “We hope yesterday’s incident gives our coaches and student-athletes an opportunity to reflect, learn and move forward in a way that demonstrates decorum and leadership on and off the court.”

Michigan (14-11, 8-7 in the Big Ten) next plays Wednesday at home against Rutgers, while the Badgers play Wednesday at Minnesota.

Phil Martelli, a Michigan assistant who won 444 career games at St. Joseph’s and led it to the Round of 16 of the 2004 NCAA Tournament, will lead the team in Howard’s absence. Howard will be eligible to return for the Big Ten tournament, which takes place March 9-13 in Indianapolis.

“Put simply, there is no room at UM for the behavior we have seen,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said in a statement Monday. “We will learn from this incident as a department, work to improve while operating in the spotlight, and move forward in a positive light.”

The 6-foot-9 Howard, a former longtime NBA player, Miami Heat assistant coach and member of Michigan’s famed “Fab Five” team, didn’t initially step into the handshake line on Sunday, but arrived late.

Gard, who is 5-11, grabbed Howard’s right elbow to get his attention so they could talk. Howard then tugged on Gard’s shirt, pointed his index finger in Gard’s face, and got into a heated argument with the Wisconsin coach. As the coaches were separated by police officers, assistant coaches and players, Howard slapped assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft on the head. Players from both teams then began pushing and shoving each other.

Gard later said in a television interview that Howard was upset because Gard called a timeout with 15 seconds remaining and Wisconsin up 15 points. Michigan, which lost 77-63, was pressing Wisconsin backups when Gard called timeout.

Howard said he felt the need to defend himself after Gard made contact with him.

“Touching me unnecessarily was unnecessary when we had spoken,” Howard said on Sunday. “And at that moment, I thought it was time to protect myself.”

In his statement Monday, Howard apologized to Krabbenhoft and his family, as well as the Michigan players and their families, his staff, his family and the Michigan fans.

“I talk a lot about being a Michigan man and representing the University of Michigan with class and pride,” he said. “I didn’t do that, or set the right example in the right way for my student-athletes. I will learn from my mistake.

Michigan, which was ranked 4th this season, remains in the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Michigan coach Juwan Howard suspended for remainder of regular season
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