Michigan's Howard suspends 5 games in Wisconsin melee

Juwan Howard, a Michigan basketball coach, has been suspended for the last five games of the regular-season and fined $40,000 after striking a Wisconsin assistant in his head. triggering a postgame melee.

Michigan's Howard suspends 5 games in Wisconsin melee

Three players from the Big Ten Conference were also suspended Monday for an altercation that followed Sunday's 77-63 victory by the Badgers: Terrance Williams II of Michigan and Moussa Dibate of Michigan, as well as Jahcobi Neath from Wisconsin.

Greg Gard, Wisconsin's coach was suspended after he violated the conference's sportsmanship policies. He was however fined $10,000. Howard is expected back for the Big Ten tournament which starts March 9th in Indianapolis.

Howard released Monday's statement, "After taking the time to reflect upon all that occurred, I realize how unacceptable my actions and words have been and how they have affected so many," in a statement released Monday by the university. "I truly regret."

In Howard's absence, Michigan's interim coach will be Phil Martelli. The final five regular season games for Michigan are at home against Rutgers on Wednesday, No. 15 Illinois on Sunday, Michigan State March 1 and No. 25 Iowa on Sunday, March 1 and No. 22 Ohio State on February 6.

Kevin Warren, Big Ten Commissioner, stated that Big Ten Conference student-athletes and coaches are expected to exhibit the highest standards of sportsmanship. I am grateful for the partnership that I have had with Warde Manuel, Michigan Athletics Director and Chris McIntosh, Wisconsin Athletics Director. We expect that yesterday's incident will allow our coaches and student athletes to reflect, learn, and move on in a way that displays decorum and leadership both on and off the court.

Howard, a former NBA player, was the reigning Associated Press men’s coach of year. Gard called a timeout just 15 seconds before the game ended and his team led by 15.

In the postgame handshake line Gard grabbed Howard at the arm to explain why he called a timeout. Howard shouted, "Don't touch me!" as Gard tried to explain why he called the timeout. He then put his right index finger into Gard's face and they began to argue.

Howard stated in his postgame news conference, "At that moment, I felt it was necessary to protect myself."

After the coaches had been separated, Howard opened his right hand and hit Joe Krabbenhoft (Wisconsin assistant) on the left side.

Howard stated Sunday that someone touched me. He felt it was inappropriate, since we were communicating verbally. That's what escalated it.

The skirmish saw players from both sides get involved. Video appeared to show Neath and Diabate throwing punches.

Monday's statement by Howard included a retraction to Krabbenhoft, Michigan's players, their families, staff and his family.

Howard stated, "I speak a lot on being a Michigan man" and how he represents the University of Michigan with classe and pride. Howard said, "I didn't do that and I did not set the right example for my student-athletes. This mistake was a learning experience for me, and it will not happen again. There are no excuses!

Gard stated that he took a timeout Sunday because his backup players only had four seconds to cross the court, and he wanted the clock to reset to 10 seconds.

Gard suggested that Gard might not be aware of the rule that requires you to reset for 10 seconds. I didn't want to put my players into that kind of situation. They had to be able to stop a press in just four seconds. That would be unacceptable for a regular team. I can take a break. This gives my players the best chance of success. That's how it all began. He said, "I'll keep that in mind." I'll keep that in mind.' He said, "Hey, let's tell you why."

Chris McIntosh, Wisconsin's athletic director, said that he immediately contacted Kevin Warren, Big Ten Commissioner about the situation following the game. McIntosh also stated that Badgers staff members were "affected" and "injured" during the altercation.

McIntosh stated that there is no place, no space, for conduct like this in any competition, even a Big Ten competition. "The Big Ten is proud of its sportsmanship. The Big Ten is proud to act with class. This didn't happen today.

Sunday's statement from Warde Manuel, Michigan athletic director, stated that he had made an apology to McIntosh. Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman had also contacted Rebecca Blank, Wisconsin Chancellor, "to make amends for the completely unacceptable behavior."

Manuel released a statement Monday saying that "Today's discipline action underlines the seriousness of which we take Sunday's incident,". Simply put, U-M is not able to accommodate the behavior that we witnessed. As a department we will learn from this incident, improve our operations under the spotlight and move forward in positive light.

Howard isn't the first to be in a high-profile situation with another Big Ten coach.

Howard was involved in a shouting match last season with Mark Turgeon, the Maryland coach at the time. He had to be stopped from participating in the conference tournament. Howard was charged with two technical fouls, and was expelled from the Michigan game that Michigan won 79-66.

The Wolverines (8-7) and 14-11 (11-11) started the season with hopes of competing for the national championship. They are now closing the season trying to get an NCAA Tournament bid.

Howard is now in his third season as Michigan coach, after having been part of Michigan's Fab Five team three decades ago. He helped the Wolverines win 23 games of the Big Ten title and reach the NCAA Tournament regional finals last season.

To rank second on Michigan's team, Diabate averages 9.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest. Williams is a reserve forward who plays 15.4 minutes per match.

Neath plays 8.9 minutes per match for Wisconsin as a reserve guard. He will be absent from the Badgers 13th-ranked game Wednesday at Minnesota.


 

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