The Big Ten Conference announced on Monday that Michigan Coach Juwan Howard had been suspended for five games — the remainder of the regular season — and fined $40,000 for slapping an assistant coach for the Wisconsin men’s basketball team in the head during the handshake line following his team’s loss to the Badgers on Sunday. He will be able to play in the conference tournament if he wants to.
Howard expressed his regrets for the first time in a statement released on Monday.
According to Howard’s apology, “after taking some time to think on everything that transpired, I’ve realised how terrible both my actions and words were, and how they had an impact on so many people.” “Please accept my sincere apologies.”
The conference said that Michigan forwards Terrance Williams II and Moussa Diabaté, who were both engaged in the altercation, will be punished for one game apiece. Despite his involvement in the incident, Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard was just fined $10,000 and wasn’t banned. Jahcobi Neath, a Wisconsin guard, has been banned for one game.
Kevin Warren, the commissioner of the Big Ten Conference, stated in a statement that “coaches and student-athletes are required to demonstrate the greatest degree of sportsmanship behaviour.” “We anticipate that the situation that occurred yesterday will offer our coaches and student-athletes with a chance to reflect, learn, and move ahead in a way that exhibits civility and leadership both on and off the field,” the statement reads.
Michigan (14-11, 8-7 in the Big Ten) will play its next game on Wednesday, at home against Rutgers, while the Badgers will travel to Minnesota on Wednesday to face the Gophers.
In Howard’s absence, the squad will be headed by Phil Martelli, a former Michigan assistant who won 444 games in his career at St. Joseph’s and guided the team to the round of 8 in the 2004 N.C.A.A. tournament. Howard will be able to return for the Big Ten tournament, which will be held in Indianapolis from March 9 to March 13 this year.
“To put it bluntly, the conduct we saw has no place at the University of Michigan,” Warde Manuel, Michigan’s athletic director, said in a statement on Monday. “As a department, we will take the lessons learned from this occurrence and use them to better ourselves while functioning in the public eye in order to go ahead in a favourable way.”
The 6-foot-9 Howard, a former NBA player and assistant coach for the Miami Heat, as well as a member of Michigan’s storied “Fab Five” squad, did not originally approach the handshake line on Sunday, but did so later in the day.
Gard, who is 5-11, grabbed Howard’s right elbow in an attempt to draw his attention so that they could chat more freely. Howard then began tugging at Gard’s shirt, pointing his index finger in Gard’s direction, and engaging in a violent debate with the Wisconsin coach. The coaches were separated by police officers, assistant coaches, and players when Howard smacked the assistant coach, Joe Krabbenhoft, in the head with a baseball bat. Afterwards, players from both sides started bumping and pushing each other about.
Gard said after the game in a televised interview that Howard was unhappy because Gard had called a timeout with 15 seconds left in the game and Wisconsin leading by fifteen points. Michigan, who had just fallen to Wisconsin, 77-63, was putting pressure on the Wisconsin backups when Gard called a timeout.
Howard said that he felt compelled to protect himself when Gard made contact with him.
“Touching me in an unnecessary manner wasn’t called for when we had chatted,” Howard stated on Sunday afternoon. “It was at that moment that I decided it was necessary to defend myself.”
Howard expressed his regrets to Krabbenhoft and his family, as well as to the Michigan athletes and their families, his coaching staff, his family, and Michigan fans, in a statement released on Monday.
I talk a lot about what it means to be a Michigan man and how important it is to represent the University of Michigan with dignity and pride,” he added.
Michigan, which has been rated as high as No. 4 in the nation this season, is still in the running for a spot in the N.C.A.A. tournament.