Michigan manager Juwan Howard has been suspended for the remainder of the regular season

After slapping an assistant coach for the Wisconsin men’s basketball team in the handshake line following his team’s defeat on Sunday, Michigan manager Juwan Howard was suspended for five games – the rest of the regular season – and fined. of $ 40,000, the Big Ten Conference announced Monday. He can come back for the conference tournament.

In a statement Monday, Howard apologized for the first time.

“After reflecting on everything that has happened, I realize how unacceptable both my actions and words were and how they have affected so many people,” Howard said in the statement. “I’m really sorry.”

Michigan strikers Terrance Williams II and Moussa Diabaté, involved in the brawl, were suspended for one game each, the conference said. Wisconsin manager Greg Gard was fined $ 10,000 for his role in the altercation but was not suspended. Wisconsin guard Jahcobi Neath has been suspended for one game.

“Big Ten Conference coaches and student-athletes are expected to exhibit the highest level of sporting conduct,” said Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren in a statement. “Our expectation is that yesterday’s incident will provide our coaches and student-athletes with the opportunity to reflect, learn and move forward in a way that demonstrates decorum and leadership on and off the pitch.”

Michigan (14-11, 8-7 in the Big Ten) will play at home against the Rutgers next Wednesday, while the Badgers will play in Minnesota on Wednesday.

Phil Martelli, a Michigan assistant who won 444 career games at St. Joseph’s and led him to the round of 16 in the 2004 NCAA tournament, will lead the team in Howard’s absence. Howard will be able to return for the Big Ten tournament, which will be held March 9-13 in Indianapolis.

“Simply put, there is no room in UM for the behavior we have seen,” said Warde Manuel, Michigan athletic director on Monday. “We will learn from this incident as a department, we will work to improve ourselves as we operate in the spotlight and we will move forward in a positive light.”

6-foot-9 Howard, a longtime former NBA player, assistant coach of the Miami Heat and a member of Michigan’s famed “Fab Five” team, did not initially enter the handshake line on Sunday, but arrived late.

Gard, who is 5-11, grabbed Howard’s right elbow to get his attention so they could talk. Howard then tugged at Gard’s shirt, pointed his index finger in Gard’s face, and started a heated argument with the Wisconsin manager. When the coaches were separated from police officers, assistant coaches and players, Howard slapped the head of Joe Krabbenhoft, the assistant manager. The players of both teams then began to push and push each other.

Gard later said in a televised interview that Howard was upset that Gard had called a timeout with 15 seconds remaining and Wisconsin led by 15 points. Michigan, who lost 77-63, were pressing Wisconsin backups when Gard called the timeout.

Howard said he felt the need to defend himself after Gard initiated contact.

“You didn’t need to touch me unnecessarily when we talked,” Howard said on Sunday. “And at that point, I thought it was time to protect myself.”

In his statement on Monday, Howard apologized to Krabbenhoft and his family, as well as Michigan players and their families, staff, family and Michigan fans.

“I talk a lot about being a Michigan man and representing the University of Michigan with class and pride,” he said. “I didn’t, nor did I set the right example in the right way for my student-athletes. I will learn from my mistake. “

Michigan, which was ranked number 4 this season, remains on the bubble for the NCAA tournament.