Michigan basketball parts ways with coach Juwan Howard following latest disappointing season

Michigan basketball parts ways with coach Juwan Howard following latest disappointing season

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Five years ago, Juwan Howard delivered a teary introductory press conference shortly after he was named head basketball coach at his alma mater, the University of Michigan.

“Tears of joy,” an emotional Howard said during the May 2019 press conference. “I said I wasn’t going to cry, but I guess that never happens when you’re excited about something so special to you … that means so much.” 

Five years later, Howard’s emotions likely struck a different chord when Michigan announced its decision to fire the former NBA player.

“After a comprehensive review of the program, I have decided that Juwan will not return as our men’s basketball coach,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said in a statement Friday.

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Head coach Juwan Howard of the Michigan Wolverines during the first half against the Michigan State Spartans at Breslin Center Jan. 30, 2024, in East Lansing, Mich. (Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Howard was a member of Michigan’s acclaimed “Fab Five” recruiting class that became the first all-freshman starting five in the NCAA tournament title game. Manuel praised Howard for creating a “positive experience” for the players but stressed the need for the program to turn the page.

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“Juwan is among the greatest Wolverines to ever be associated with our basketball program. I know how much it meant, to not only Juwan, but to all of us for him to return here to lead this program. Despite his love of his alma mater and the positive experience that our student-athletes had under his leadership, it was clear to me that the program was not living up to our expectations and not trending in the right direction. I am thankful for Juwan’s dedication, passion and commitment to UM and for all that he, and his legacy, will continue to mean to Michigan.”

Juwan Howard gestures

Head coach Juwan Howard of the Michigan Wolverines signals to his team during the second half of a game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Crisler Arena Feb. 5, 2023, in Ann Arbor, Mich. (Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)

Howard finishes his coaching tenure in Ann Arbor with an 82-67 record. The Wolverines qualified for the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament two times under Howard. 

This season marked a low point for the Wolverines. The team finished with just eight wins and a program record 24 losses.

The Wolverines ended the season on a nine-game losing streak.

Juwan Howard coaches against North Carolina

Head coach Juwan Howard talks with Jett Howard (13) of the Michigan Wolverines during the second half of a game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Spectrum Center Dec. 21, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

An incident also marred Howard’s time with the Wolverines. In February 2022, Howard was involved in a heated exchange with Wisconsin coach Greg Gard in the postgame handshake line. Howard’s displeasure seemed to stem from Gard’s decision to call a timeout in the game’s closing moments.

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At one point during the altercation, Howard appeared to strike a Wisconsin coach in the head. The Big Ten Conference later suspended and fined Howard for his actions.

Howard was held in high regard for his ability to recruit top talent to Michigan. He was responsible for bringing in top-15 classes for 2020-22. But roster retention issues likely played a role in his eventual dismissal.

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