Juwan Howard Gets Physical in Wolverines' 63-77 Loss in Madison
Michigan basketball coach facing scrutiny following post-game altercation.
Things Get Heated in the Handshake Line
Following a Big Ten Conference matchup between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Michigan Wolverines there was an altercation between staff, players, and coaches in the Kohl Center in Madison, WI on Sunday afternoon February 20th. The incident started with a back and forth between Michigan's Juwan Howard and Wisconsin's Greg Gard. In the post-game press conference, Howard said he was frustrated with Gard’s decision to call a timeout with 15 seconds left to go in the game when the Badgers were up by a considerable margin and the game had been decided long ago. The two Big Ten teams were tied at the half 31-31 and Michigan kept it competitive with the 15th ranked Badgers for a few minutes into the second half before going ice cold from the floor, especially from beyond the perimeter. When the final buzzer sounds and the teams begin to form the traditional handshake line, Juwan Howard was still upset over the called timeout and hesitated to join the line and shake hands with the opposing team. In hindsight maybe the third-year head coach just should have skipped the handshakes and formalities and taken the time to compose himself because what ensued is not a great look for Michigan Basketball. When Juwan Howard and Wisconsin's Greg Gard finally do meet in line Howard tries to make it a brief exchange and Gard grabs him to attempt to talk with him further. Many speculate Gard was trying to explain why he called the late timeout. Regardless of what Gard is trying to say to Howard, the Michigan head coach has no interest in hearing it. Instead Howard tells Gard “Don't touch me”. Words continue to be exchanged and then Howard points his finger in Gard’s face and says “Don't f*cking touch me!”. At this point, players and staff were all gathered around tightly in close quarters and tensions were escalating. Gard is instantly contained by a University police officer and removed from the crowd of players and staff. Howard was being distanced from the epicenter of the situation until there is contact between Wisconsin staff members and Michigan players Jaron Faulds and Terrance Williams II. At this moment Howard loses his cool and displays a major lapse in judgment by grabbing for and making contact with Wisconsin asst. coach Joe Krabbenhoft. Following Howards swipe, chaos unfolded as players and staff got involved in what looked like a brawl of pushing, swinging, and shouting. The video appears to show Wisconsin’s Jacobi Neath as well as Michigan’s Moussa Diabate throwing punches. Everyone has seen the video countless times at this point and has their own opinion of who did what wrong and who did what to who, but in the end it will come down to what is determined in the independent investigations by the Big Ten Conference and both universities.
A Bad Look From All Sides
Juwan Howard is facing major scrutiny after being the catalyst for an altercation between his Michigan Wolverines and the Wisconsin Badgers basketball teams on Sunday afternoon. The mainstream media even made it headline news with many media personalities discussing the story such as ESPN's Stephen A. Smith speculated that Michigan might fire Howard. Smith is not alone in his thinking, as many people's initial reaction to viewing the video has been calling for Howard's job, even in the Michigan fan base. The University of Michigan's President Mary Sue Coleman has reached out to Wisconsin Chancellor Rebecca Blank “to apologize for the totally unacceptable behavior” and Athletic Director Warde Manuel has also made a statement saying that the incident is inexcusable, no matter what instigated it. The Big Ten is on record claiming that they intend to take swift and appropriate action as soon as the conference completes their investigation of the event. Howard making contact with Krabbenhoft’s head has garnished the most attention and will consequently garnish the harshest of punishments, especially considering the national spotlight and backlash the incident has received. Juwan Howard has stated he is ready to accept whatever punishment is dealt. An otherwise respectable coach lost his control in a moment of frustration after a tough loss during a challenging season. Howard should be held accountable for his actions and mistakes and absolutely be better going forward. Howard's refusal to apologize certainly didn't not help the look of things. The chances of Howard being fired are unlikely, but a suspension for the remainder of the season could be the case, as there are only 5 games left before the start of conference tournament play. Whatever punishment is dealt out, the sooner the better, and if Michigan gets out in front of it and takes disciplinary action before the Big Ten does it will go a long way for the University. As of Monday afternoon around 4:30 pm no action has been taken. Aside from the issues the Wolverines have to deal with because of the post-game altercation, Michigan took a blow to their NCAA Tournament chances after suffering the 63-77 loss. All 5 of the Wolverine's remaining games are against higher-ranked Big Ten teams including rival Michigan State, 15 Illinois, 25 Iowa, and 22 Ohio State.
UPDATE 7:10 PM Monday, February 21st
Yahoo! Sports is first to report that Michigan is suspending head coach Juwan Howard for the remainder of the regular season for his role in the post-game altercation between Michigan and Wisconsin. The University will be coupling the suspension with a $40K fine. Wisconsin coach Greg Gard will be fined 10K for his involvement in the incident. Moussa Diabate and Terrance Williams II for the Wolverines, as well as Jacobi Neath for the Badgers all will face one-game suspensions that will become effective immediately.