As the final minute of the Michigan/Wisconsin game on Sunday counted down, Wisconsin Badgers coach Greg Gard subbed his walk-ons while Michigan Wolverines coach Juwan Howard kept his starters in. Wisconsin had the game well in hand, cruising to a 77-63 home win, but Howard would later state that he was angry over Wisconsin’s timeout usage. Wisconsin called two timeouts in the last minute, which is kind of petty given they were going to win anyway.
“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.”
After the game, Howard and Gard got into an altercation that also involved players from each team. According to ESPN, Howard has been suspended for the remainder of the regular season (five games) and fined $40,000 for hitting Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft. Wisconsin coach Greg Gard was fined $10,000 but not suspended.
Michigan forwards Terrance Williams, Moussa Diabate, and Wisconsin guard Jahcobi Neath were each suspended one game for appearing to throw punches. Along with the Big Ten, both schools came together to form the punishments.
“Big Ten Conference coaches and student-athletes are expected to display the highest level of sportsmanship conduct,” conference commissioner Kevin Warren said in a statement. “I am grateful for the partnership with Michigan athletics director, Warde Manuel, and Wisconsin athletics director, Chris McIntosh.
“Our expectation is that the incident yesterday will provide our coaches and student-athletes with the opportunity to reflect, learn and move forward in a manner that demonstrates decorum and leadership on and off of the court.”
Michigan athletics director Warde Manuel issued a separate statement:
“Today’s disciplinary actions underscore the seriousness with which we take the incident that unfolded on Sunday. Simply put, there is no room at U-M for the behavior we saw,” Manuel said in Michigan’s statement. “We will learn from this incident as a department, work to improve ourselves while operating under a spotlight, and move forward in a positive light.”
Wisconsin athletics director Chris McIntosh stated the school itself would be paying the fine:
McIntosh said in a statement released by Wisconsin: “Needless to say, there is no place in college athletics for what happened at the end of Sunday’s game. Neither Coach Gard nor his staff had any intent to provoke or incite any of what took place. I want to commend those on our staff — and student-athletes — who were trying to de-escalate the situation.
“Our staff has my complete support, as do our student-athletes. I consider the $10,000 fine from the Big Ten to be a ‘Wisconsin fine’ and not a ‘Greg Gard fine.’ Wisconsin Athletics will assume the responsibility for paying the fine.”
Howard also issued an apology on Monday:
From CBS Sports:
“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. 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!”
It’s a little weird to me that Gard, who grabbed Howard first, is not seeing a suspension for his role in the matter. Michigan is currently 14-11 and on the cusp of not making the NCAA tournament which makes losing their coach that much worse.