Juwan Howard can focus on coaching now that an investigation about his conduct with a strength and conditioning coach has ended.
The Michigan men’s basketball coach and former NBA player, who was also part of Michigan’s famed Fab Five, returned to the bench this weekend after a health crisis and an altercation. Howard, 50, had open heart surgery Sept. 15 to resect an aortic aneurysm and repair his aortic valve.
After working his way back as an assistant coach, with Phil Martelli taking on head coaching duties, Howard had a heated disagreement with longtime strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson last week. At the same time that Michigan athletic director announced Howard’s return, he also said that neither Howard nor Sanderson would be disciplined for the incident.
“The return of our usual coaching structure comes after a review of an incident involving several individuals during a team practice last week,” Manuel said in a statement. “Based on a thorough internal review, nothing was found to warrant disciplinary action for anyone involved. As such, we will move forward with a focus on our team and our season.”
Sanderson, who has the same role with the men’s and women’s golf teams has been at Michigan since 2009. He’s credited with helping Michigan become a powerhouse in providing NBA draft picks, sending 17 players to the draft including 11 taken in the first round.
The Athletic reports that the altercation involved Howard’s son Jace, 22, a senior guard who is rehabbing from an injury and has not played this season. He questioned a trainer about the timeline for his return, and Sanderson and Howard joined the conversation, which got heated. While no punches were thrown, the two reportedly had to be separated. As a result, Sanderson filed a report with HR. Though both men were cleared, Sanderson hasn’t been seen with the team since.
Howard has had altercations and is now working under a “zero tolerance” policy. He was disciplined in 2022 after he and Wisconsin coach Greg Gard barked at each other on the handshake line. In the ensuing commotion, Howard hit Badger coach Joe Krabbenhoff in the head. He was suspended for five games and fined $40,000. In another incident in 2021, Howard and Maryland coach Mark Turgeon had a confrontation.
In better news for Howard, his first game back against Eastern Michigan University was a win. The Wolverines beat the Eagles 83-66. They are currently 6-5 and next play Florida Dec. 19 in the Jumpman Invitational in Charlotte, N.C.
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