Michigan men’s basketball coach Juwan Howard took a swipe at Wisconsin assistant Joe Krabbenhoft’s face in the postgame handshake line between the teams, setting off a brawl involving coaches and players from both sides.
Wisconsin coach Greg Gard stopped Howard in the handshake line, leading to the two men exchanging words before being surrounded by a few players and coaches. Howard put his finger in Gard’s face and grabbed Gard’s sweater before Krabbenhoft came over in the middle of the scrum. Howard then reached out and struck Krabbenhoft’s face.
Both teams began pushing and shoving, with Michigan forwards Moussa Diabate and Terrance Williams appearing to throw punches. Wisconsin guard Jahcobi Neath also appeared to throw a punch.
The Big Ten said it would review the matter for “swift and appropriate disciplinary action.”
“The Big Ten Conference is aware of a physical altercation involving Michigan Head Coach Juwan Howard at the conclusion of the Michigan Wolverines and Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball game. The conference is in contact with both member institutions and is currently assessing the incident. The conference will provide more information and will take swift and appropriate disciplinary action when it completes its review,” the conference said in a statement.
Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said in a statement that he apologized to Wisconsin AD Chris McIntosh, and university president Mary Sue Coleman was reaching out to Wisconsin chancellor Rebecca Blank.
“I am aware of and watched the end of our men’s basketball game. There is no excuse for any of our staff or student-athletes to get into a physical altercation with others regardless of instigating factors. I reached out and apologized to Chris McIntosh and President Coleman has reached out to UW Chancellor Blank to apologize for the totally unacceptable behavior,” he said. “We will review the situation more thoroughly and work with the Big Ten Conference as they determine their disciplinary actions and will determine if further disciplinary actions are warranted.”
McIntosh had said he had contacted Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren about the situation, adding that Wisconsin had staff members who were “affected and injured.”
“There’s no room, no space for conduct like that in any competition, much less a Big Ten competition,” McIntosh said. “The Big Ten takes pride in sportsmanship. The Big Ten takes pride in acting with class. That didn’t happen today.”
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. Wisconsin won 77-63.
“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 said he reacted after someone from Wisconsin put hands on him, though he 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.”
This isn’t Howard’s first incident with an opposing coach since taking over at Michigan in 2019. At last year’s Big Ten tournament, Howard was ejected after getting into a shouting match with Maryland coach Mark Turgeon. The two head coaches exchanged words before Howard began walking toward Turgeon, with Howard needing to be held back by his assistant coaches.