Michigan Wolverines men’s basketball Juwan Howard reminded everyone he’s from Chicago on Sunday (Feb.20).
Howard set social media ablaze after he was involved in an altercation in Wisconsin following a loss to the Badgers that saw him hit assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft in the face. His actions earned him a 5-game suspension (the remainder of the Wolverine’s regular season) and a $40,000 fine the Big Ten Conference announced on Monday (Feb.21). Wisconsin coach Greg Gard was also fined $10,000 for violating the NCAA’s sportsmanship policy but will not be suspended, and Krabbenhoft will not face any discipline.
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Some players were involved in the scrum, Michigan forwards Terrance Williams and Moussa Diabate, and Wisconsin guard Jahcobi Neath was suspended a game. They were seen throwing punches during the mayhem, the Big Ten, in conjunction with the schools, handled the disciplinary action.
So what caused all hell to break loose on the basketball court? Gard’s use of his timeouts near the end of the game that the Badgers were well on their way to winning didn’t sit right with Howard. In the final minute of Wisconsin’s 77-63 victory over the Wolverines, Gard decided to let his walk-ons get some burn while the Wolverines still had its regulars on the floor playing full-court defense. Gard chose to call a timeout to settle his team down to advance the ball across half court.
When the game was over, Gard grabbed Howard as he walked past him to talk to him, and Howard did not appreciate that. Both coaches began exchanging words with Howard, putting his finger in Gard’s face and grabbing his shirt before several players and coaches began to surround the coaches. Krabbenhoft then enters the scene and says something to Howard, triggering him to slap or mush Krabbenhoft in the face.
Following the game, Howard explained his actions during his post-game press conference, stating, “I didn’t like the timeout they called, and I’m being totally honest with you,” Howard said. “I thought it was not necessary at that moment, especially with it being a large lead. … I thought that wasn’t fair to our guys. And so that’s what happened.”
Howard added that someone from Wisconsin touching him ultimately led to his response. “Someone touched me, and I think it was very uncalled for, for them to touch me, as we were verbalizing and communicating with one another. That’s what escalated it,” Howard said.
Howard later apologized for his actions in a statement released on Monday following his punishment.
“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. I am truly sorry,” Howard said in a separate statement shared by Michigan on Monday. “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!” he further added.
Of course, the incident sparked a discussion, with many agreeing he was wrong but agreeing this was not a fireable offense.
While others, like Fox Sports resident Stephen from Django Unchained, Jason Whitlock, spin the bonehead narrative that Howard deserves to lose his job.
That won’t be the case with Howard being able to coach his team in the postseason. You can peep more reactions to slap heard around the college sport’s world in the gallery below.
Photo: John Fisher / Getty