Finley: Fire Juwan Howard as University of Michigan basketball coach

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

Juwan Howard should never coach another game for the Michigan Wolverines. 

Sunday, after the loss to Wisconsin, Howard started a brawl in the post-game handshake line that engulfed both teams. He was apparently angry with Badgers head coach Greg Gard for calling what Howard felt was a gratuitous timeout near the end of a game Wisconsin had well in hand.

Gard appeared to be trying to talk with Howard, who became increasingly agitated. As their teams tried to separate the two, Howard reached out and struck a Wisconsin assistant coach in the head.

Michigan head coach Juwan Howard

That triggered a general struggle between the two teams. Howard had to be pushed away from the smaller, older Gard.

It was the second time Howard has initiated a bench-clearing donnybrook on national TV. He was hit with two technical fouls and was ejected in a game against Maryland last March when he clashed with coach Mark Turgeon.

In that confrontation, an enraged Howard had to be pushed off the court by his assistant coaches. And Turgeon claimed Howard yelled, "I'm gonna f---ing kill you."

The Big Ten wrongly decided not to suspend Howard heading into the postseason.

This time, there's no question discipline is warranted. Physical contact was made, and it appeared to be intentional.

And yet UM Athletic Director Warde Manuel waffled on what will happen to Howard, saying he'll wait to hear from the Big Ten. The Big Ten is not Howard's employer; UM is, and disciplining a coach is the university's responsibility. 

A coach who cannot control his temper should not be allowed to lead a team of young men. He is a bad example for his players.

And his outbursts are a bad look for the University of Michigan.

I've said the same thing in the past when Michigan State University Coach Tom Izzo became threatening with his players. Coaches aren't hired just to win games. They're also supposed to be developing mature and honorable young adults.

Last year, Howard sloughed off his tantrum by explaining he's from the south side of Chicago and that's how disputes were settled when he was a kid.

That doesn't cut it. He's not on the south side any longer. He's the head coach of one of the premier universities in the Big 10. He should be expected to control himself.

Defenders of such behavior will again say that Howard was trying to fire up his team. Or that he's trying to turn boys into men. Or that this is just sports.

But there's a clear line between passion and violence. And in the real world, men who physically attack other men in the workplace find themselves out of a job.

Violence should be no more acceptable for a college coach than it would be for a college professor. Nor should athletes or coaches get a pass for physical assaults that would get them arrested in any other venue. 

Howard learned nothing from last year's embarrassing spectacle. And won't from this one, if he's again allowed to blow it off.

UM should seriously consider whether it wants such a volatile coach in charge of its basketball team. 

Twitter: @NolanFinleyDN

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