Michigan coach Juwan Howard is being suspended five games – the rest of the regular season – for hitting Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft in the face after Sunday’s game, sources told ESPN on Monday.
An official announcement, as well as punishments for the other coaches and players involved in the postgame altercation, is expected Monday night. Hefty fines are expected to be part of the discipline.
In the final minute of Wisconsin’s 77-63 win on Sunday, Badgers coach Greg Gard substituted his walk-ons into the game. Michigan, which still had its regulars on the floor, was pressing full-court, leading Gard to call a timeout to settle his team and give them a chance to cross halfcourt without turning the ball over.
Following the final buzzer, Gard grabbed Howard’s arm as he walked past in an attempt to stop and talk to him. The two men exchanged words, with Howard putting his finger in Gard’s face and grabbing Gard’s shirt before being surrounded by several players and coaches. Krabbenhoft then came over in the middle of the scrum, exchanged words with Howard, then Howard reached out and struck Krabbenhoft’s face.
Both teams began pushing and shoving, with Michigan forwards Moussa Diabate and Terrance Williams and Wisconsin guard Jahcobi Neath appearing to throw punches.
Howard said he was angry over Wisconsin’s timeout usage. Wisconsin called two timeouts in the last minute, including one with 15 seconds left when the Badgers led by 15.
“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.”
He also said someone from Wisconsin made contact with him, but didn’t specify who did it.
“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,” he said.
Gard explained his rationale for the timeouts, particularly the one with 15 seconds left, in a postgame interview with CBS.
“Apparently he didn’t like that I called the timeout to reset the 10-second call. Because we only had four seconds to get the ball over half court,” Gard told CBS. “I didn’t want to put my backups – I had all my bench guys in the game – I didn’t want to put them in that position of scrambling with only four seconds. So I took a timeout and got us a new 10 seconds and it helped them get organized and get the ball in. And he did not like that when he came through the handshake line. I’ll leave it at that and the tape will show the rest. “
Michigan (14-11 overall, 8-7 in the Big Ten) has four straight games at home before playing at Ohio State in the regular-season finale. Associate head coach Phil Martelli, the former longtime coach at St. Joseph’s, took over head-coaching duties when Howard was ejected from last year’s Big Ten tournament.
Yahoo! Sports was first to report news of the suspension.