Juwan Howard investigation: Why Michigan is conducting probe into Wolverines basketball coach

Michigan has had its fair share of investigations in 2023, and the school is not off the hook yet. 

The university has reportedly opened an investigation into Wolverines basketball head coach Juwan Howard stemming from an alleged incident involving a member of the team’s training staff. 

Neither Michigan nor Howard have released a statement on the matter. 

A former Michigan and NBA star, Howard has been the head basketball coach at his alma mater since 2019. After spending seven seasons as an assistant coach on the Miami Heat, the Wolverines tabbed Howard as the replacement for John Beilein, who was leaving Ann Arbor for the NBA. 

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The rumblings of the probe have led to online speculation surrounding Howard’s status as head coach of the Wolverines. Here is the latest news on Howard and the investigation from the school:

Juwan Howard investigation

According to a social media post Sunday from The Athletic’s Brendan Quinn, Michigan has opened an investigation into an alleged altercation between Howard and Michigan strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson. 

“A confrontation between Howard and longtime U-M strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson in a team practice late last week is being explored and going through a university review process,” Quinn said. “It is university procedure for such a review to be conducted outside of the athletic department.

“Multiple sources say claims of punches being thrown in the aforementioned altercation are inaccurate.”

Sanderson did not travel with the team to its game at Iowa on Sunday, a 90-80 Wolverines win. However, according to Quinn’s sources, he is still a member of the program. 

Howard remains under a “zero-tolerance policy” with Michigan after his incident last year in a Michigan vs. Wisconsin game. The Wolverines head coach struck a Badgers assistant coach while getting into an altercation with Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard

Is Juwan Howard leaving Michigan?

Howard is still the head coach of Michigan’s basketball program. 

Rumors have been swirling recently about the Wolverines potentially parting ways with their head coach amid the ongoing investigation, however, according to Quinn, that is not the case. 

Howard’s status as head coach of the Wolverines became a hot topic online when a fake account on X, formerly Twitter, posted that Howard was stepping down with assistant coach Phil Martelli set to take over with the interim tag. The account was named @JomRothstein — a parody of NCAA basketball insider Jon Rothstein, hence the confusion online. 

Former Michigan star and current sports analyst Jalen Rose posted online that his former teammate is not planning to step down as head coach of the program. 

.@JuwanHoward did not & is not stepping down as HC. He is enthusiastically hoping to return Dec 16th. Juwan is literally recovering from OPEN HEART SURGERY done Sept 15th. HAIL!!!!!

— Jalen Rose (@JalenRose) December 11, 2023

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Juwan Howard surgery

Howard has taken more of a backseat role with the team this year, but that is not because his future with the team is in question. 

The 50-year-old coach is recovering from heart surgery that he had in September. Howard underwent a procedure at the University of Michigan Health Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center that “resected an aortic aneurysm and repaired Howard’s aortic valve.”

After the surgery, the doctors indicated that Howard was expected to fully recover in six to 12 weeks. 

“I feel so grateful and blessed that this surgery was performed at University of Michigan Health,” Howard said in a statement. “My wife, Jenine, and our family appreciate the world-class care that has been provided to us. Dr. (Kim) Eagle, Dr. (Himanshu) Patel, Dr. (Stanley) Chetcuti, and all of the staff at the Frankel Cardiovascular Center are so talented and performed like champions throughout this process. I am going to work very hard in my rehabilitation to be stronger than ever by the time our upcoming season is upon us.”

As a result of the surgery, Howard has been around the team and on the bench, however, he has let assistant coach Phil Martelli take the lead on the staff. 

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