NCAA Basketball: Michigan at Iowa

Michigan coach Juwan Howard will resume his normal duties for Saturday's game against Eastern Michigan after he was deemed healthy enough by doctors. Howard was also cleared following a review of a reported confrontation with a staff member last week.

The school announced Howard's return on Friday with a statement from Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel.

"Juwan Howard will return to the Michigan bench Saturday (Dec. 16) against Eastern Michigan in his total capacity as head coach," according to Manuel's statement. "Coach Howard, his doctors and our medical experts remain aligned in taking this next step as he recovers from a September heart procedure. We greatly appreciate associate head coach Phil Martelli's guidance of our program on an interim basis to start the season. I want to personally thank Phil for what he has done in the past few months to lead the program. We will continue to benefit from his wisdom moving forward. 

"The return of our usual coaching structure comes after a review of an incident involving several individuals during a team practice last week. Based on a thorough internal review, nothing was found to warrant disciplinary action for anyone involved. As such, we will move forward with a focus on our team and our season." 

Howard will keep his job after nearly a week's worth of speculation over his future with the program following an internal review of an incident at practice involving Michigan strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson. Sanderson subsequently did not travel with the team to Michigan's game Sunday at Iowa, while Howard did. 

Manuel's statement did not directly address whether Sanderson had returned to his normal duties with the men's basketball program.

Howard has reportedly been employed under a zero-tolerance policy since February 2022, when he got into an altercation with Wisconsin's coaching staff following a 77-63 loss to the Badgers. Howard put his hands on Wisconsin assistant Joe Krabbenhoft and was suspended the final five games of the regular season. 

Howard's health came into question after he underwent a heart procedure that caused him to take time away from the team and prompted Martelli to serve as U-M's acting head coach. Howard rejoined the team as the season drew near, then traveled with Michigan for its Nov. 10 game against St. John's at Madison Square Garden, but did not sit on the bench. 

On Nov. 22, Howard flew with Michigan to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis and participated from the bench for the first time this season while Martelli continued to serve as acting head coach. The unusual arrangement has continued in the weeks since, with Howard on the bench as a supporting coach and Martelli serving as the Wolverines' head coach through Sunday's win vs. the Hawkeyes.

Michigan is 5-5. The program has had ups and downs since hiring Howard. The best of times came in the 2020-21 season, when Howard guided Michigan to a Big Ten championship and a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, ultimately falling in the Elite Eight. The next year, Michigan rallied to make the Sweet 16 as a No. 11 seed in an underachieving campaign. The Wolverines were an NIT team a season ago and didn't project as a high-level outfit heading into 2023-24. 

Including suspensions and time away from the team, Michigan is 84-53 since Howard was hired.