Updated: This story has been updated with the announcement of punishments. After the University of Michigan lost to the University of Wisconsin in a Sunday night men's basketball game, things got ugly in the handshake line. Michigan coach Juwan Howard exchanged angry words and gestures with Wisconsin coach Greg Gard, then allegedly grabbed Gard's sweater, leading other players and coaches to surround the two and attempt to intervene. As Howard was being led away, however, he allegedly reached out and hit Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft in the face, ESPN reports. A brawl then broke out, with players from both teams appearing to throw punches.
Late Monday, the Big Ten Conference announced it had decided on punishments for those involved. Howard was suspended for the final five games of the regular season for hitting Krabbenhoft, the conference said, and fined $40,000. That means he'll be back in time for the Big Ten tournament, which starts March 9. Gard was not suspended but was fined $10,000 for violating the conference's sportsmanship policy, per the AP. Two Michigan players and one Wisconsin player also were suspended, for one game each. Commissioner Kevin Warren said he expects the coaches and players to "reflect, learn, and move forward in a manner that demonstrates decorum and leadership on and off of the court."
As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports, the problem began when Howard apparently was "unhappy with Gard's decision to call a timeout with 15 seconds left after the reserves had a couple of quick turnovers against Michigan's full-court pressure." Per Gard, with just 4 seconds left to get the ball across half-court, taking a timeout allowed the team to instead have a full 10 seconds. "I was not going to put them in a position, when the ball had already been knocked out of bounds, to have to break a press in four seconds when they’re coming in cold off the bench," he said. "So I took a timeout, which I’m allowed to do, and brought them over to get them organized." He said no shots were allowed. "All we’re going to do is break the pressure and we’ll dribble out the clock. So we got the full 10 seconds to break that press instead of four seconds."
Howard reportedly told Gard in the handshake line that he would remember the timeout. "I thought it was unnecessary at that moment," he told reporters later. "Especially being a large lead. I thought that wasn’t fair to our guys." He claims someone touched him first, and that he ultimately felt the need to protect himself. The Big Ten commissioner says he expects the league "to act swiftly and aggressively," and notes that the whole incident was captured on video. Michigan's athletic director apologized, and added, "There is no excuse for any of our staff or student-athletes to get into a physical altercation with others regardless of instigating factors." (Read more University of Michigan stories.)