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Michigan’s Juwan Howard suspended five games for throwing punch at Wisconsin assistant

Michigan Coach Juwan Howard took a swing that set off a scrum between Wolverines and Badgers players Sunday following Wisconsin's win. (Duane Burleson/AP)
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Michigan men’s basketball coach Juwan Howard was suspended for the rest of the regular season after taking a swing in the direction of a Wisconsin assistant coach at the end of Sunday’s game.

The Big Ten announced the suspension Monday in a statement, noting that Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel “proactively addressed a five-game suspension” of Howard with Commissioner Kevin Warren and that “the conference and the University of Michigan reached alignment on Coach Howard’s disciplinary action.”

In addition, Michigan players Terrance Williams II and Moussa Diabate were suspended one game apiece for violating the conference’s sportsmanship policy, the Big Ten said. Howard also was fined $40,000; Wisconsin Coach Greg Gard received a $10,000 fine but was not suspended. Badgers guard Jahcobi Neath received a one-game ban.

Yahoo Sports was first to report Howard’s pending suspension.

“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,” Howard said in a statement after his suspension was announced. “I am truly sorry.”

Howard and Gard began jawing at each other in the handshake line after the game, a 77-63 loss for the visiting Wolverines. Howard said later that he was displeased by a timeout Gard took in the final minute.

As players and assistant coaches moved in, Howard threw a right hand in the direction of Wisconsin’s Joe Krabbenhoft. That set off a brief melee between the teams.

Howard later said he had been physically contacted first and that he will accept any penalty meted out to him by the Big Ten. Holding a large lead in the final minute, Wisconsin took a timeout with 48 seconds left and put bench players on the court, then called another timeout with 15 seconds left.

“I will remember that,” Howard told reporters, “because of that timeout. And for someone to touch me, I think that was very uncalled for, as we were verbalizing and communicating with one another. That’s what escalated it.”

“Apparently, he didn’t like that I called a timeout, to reset the 10-second call,” Gard, who noted his Badgers were running out of time to get the ball across half court, said of Howard. “I didn’t want to put my backups — I had all my bench players 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 that got us a new 10 seconds, then helped them got organized to get the ball in.

“[Howard] did not like that, when he came through the handshake line. I’ll leave it at that, and the tape will show the rest.”

Wisconsin Athletic Director Chris McIntosh, who joined Gard at a postgame news conference, said he already had spoken with Warren.

“I expect the league is going to act swiftly and aggressively,” said McIntosh, who also claimed that staff members were injured in the skirmish.

“There is no space for conduct like that in any competition, much less Big Ten competition,” McIntosh added. “The Big Ten takes pride in sportsmanship, the Big Ten in acting with class, and that didn’t happen today.”

“Big Ten Conference coaches and student-athletes are expected to display the highest level of sportsmanship conduct,” Warren said in a statement Monday. “... 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.”

A former star player for Michigan who went on to a long career in the NBA, Howard is in his third season as coach of the Wolverines. He was ejected from a Big Ten tournament game last year against Maryland after picking up two technical fouls amid a heated exchange with then-Terrapins coach Mark Turgeon.

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