Michigan fires Juwan Howard after five seasons

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - MARCH 10:  Head Basketball Coach Juwan Howard of the Michigan Wolverines speaks to media during the post game press conference after a college basketball game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Crisler Arena on March 10, 2024 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Nebraska Cornhuskers won the game 85-70. (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images)
Juwan Howard's time as Michigan's men's basketball coach is over. (Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images) (Aaron J. Thornton via Getty Images)

Juwan Howard is out at Michigan.

The Wolverines announced Friday that they are parting ways with the Fab Five legend. Howard has been Michigan’s head men’s basketball coach the past five seasons.

“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. “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.”

Michigan was 8-24 in 2023-24 after finishing above .500 in Howard’s first four seasons with the school. The Wolverines made two NCAA tournament appearances and had a record of 87-72 during Howard’s tenure.

The Wolverines ended the 2023-24 season with nine straight losses. The team’s last victory came at Wisconsin on Feb. 7, and the season ended with a 66-57 loss to Penn State on Wednesday in the Big Ten tournament. The nine-game losing streak to end the season was the third streak of at least five losses.

It was a tumultuous season off the court, too. Former strength coach Jon Sanderson left the school and is now at Illinois following a December confrontation with Howard. Sanderson’s separation settlement with Michigan reportedly included a non-disclosure clause.

The confrontation came after Juwan's son, Jace Howard, allegedly had a dispute of his own with a trainer. Jace Howard didn’t play until Jan. 15 this season because of a stress fracture in his foot, and Sanderson detailed his side of what took place in an email to Manuel the next day.

From The Athletic:

Sanderson wrote that Jace Howard “was berating” the trainer and caused a “scene” that prompted several players to stop and watch. Sanderson described the scene as “totally out of control,” and said the trainer was trying to calm Jace Howard down and get him to discuss the matter privately. Noticing the trainer looking increasingly desperate and “panicked,” Sanderson intervened, yelling at Howard from roughly 30 feet away: “You’re a student-athlete and he is a professional. You don’t talk to a professional like that. That is disrespectful and entitled.” He said he repeated that the tirade was “disrespectful.”

Sanderson wrote in the email to Manuel that he tried to de-escalate the situation, turning his back and walking away. When Sanderson looked back, he said Juwan Howard came at him, “angry and ready to fight,” repeatedly yelling as players and staff held him back.

Juwan Howard also missed the first 10 games of the season after undergoing heart surgery in September. Howard returned to the sideline Dec. 16 after Phil Martelli served as the team’s interim coach.

Howard came back to Michigan after he was an assistant coach with the Miami Heat from 2013 to '19. He played the last three seasons of his 19-year NBA career with the Heat after he was picked by the Washington Wizards with the No. 5 pick in the 1994 NBA Draft. The Chicago native played three seasons at Michigan and turned pro when he graduated after his junior year. Michigan made the Final Four in Howard’s first two seasons and lost in the Elite Eight in 1994.