The University of Michigan is investigating a confrontation between Michigan Wolverines head coach Juwan Howard and longtime strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson, according to a report from Brendan Quinn with The Athletic.
Regarding various reports of Juwan Howard’s status at Michigan .... pic.twitter.com/ZeiuZDKgMU— Brendan Quinn (@BFQuinn) December 11, 2023
The confrontation reportedly happened last week before Michigan’s most recent game, a win at Iowa. Quinn reports that Sanderson did not travel with the team for the game, but he remains as part of the program. A source confirmed to Maize n Brew that Sanderson chose not to make the trip to Iowa, and it was not a decision made by the program/university.
Quinn, Josh Henschke with the Maize & Blue Review and Sam Webb with The Michigan Insider said the incident between Howard and Sanderson did not get physical and was a verbal altercation, despite rumors swirling around social media suggesting otherwise.
The incident is reportedly going through the university review process, and as is standard procedure, it is being reviewed by the university outside of the athletic department.
Howard has been recovering from heart surgery in September and has yet to fully return as the team’s head coach. He returned to the bench to watch the games in the Battle 4 Atlantis, and has been in an assistant coaching type role since then.
Phil Martelli, who has been serving as interim head coach while Howard recovers, laid out coaching staff roles to the media following the Battle 4 Atlantis. He handles substitutions and sideline out-of-bounds plays, assistants Howard Eisley and Saddi Washington are ostensibly offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively, and Howard helps with a little bit of everything.
Martelli laid out roles of staff in Bahamas & moving forward w/ Juwan back on the bench:— Kellen Voss (@Kellen__Voss) December 1, 2023
-Eisley runs O
-Washington runs D
-He handles subs & calls sideline OTB plays
-Juwan helps w/ everything
"It's unusual but it will work," he said, emphasizing that coaching is collaborative.
At this time, it is unclear when Howard will officially continue as head coach.
Sanderson has been the head strength and conditioning coach with the men’s basketball team, as well as Michigan’s men’s and women’s golf programs, since 2009. He has played a vital role in developing players physically, and famously helped Nik Stauskas put on 16 pounds of muscle before his stand-out season in 2013-14. He also recently helped train current players Dug McDaniel and Tarris Reed Jr. this offseason.
We’re bound to learn more about this incident once the review process is over. Maize n Brew is working to confirm more information regarding the incident, and we will continue to keep you updated regarding this incident as it develops.
After Sunday’s win over Iowa, the Wolverines are 5-5 on the year and 1-1 in conference play. They don’t play again until Saturday, Dec. 16, when they host Eastern Michigan. That game is set to tip-off at 2:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network.