Michigan fires Juwan Howard, the former Fab Five star, after five seasons coaching men’s basketball

Michigan head coach Juwan Howard talks to his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Nebraska, Sunday, March 10, 2024, in Ann Arbor, Mich. Michigan fired Howard on Friday, March 15, 2024, after five seasons, 82-67 record and two NCAA Tournament. trips.(AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan fired coach Juwan Howard on Friday after five seasons, parting ways with the former Fab Five star whose return to his alma mater included a Big Ten title and advancing in two NCAA Tournaments before closing with two straight disappointing seasons.

Howard finished with an 82-67 record with the Wolverines, reaching some highs and lows. He won a conference regular season championship and was a win away from the Final Four in 2021, when he was named The Associated Press coach of the year.


He lost a school-record 24 games this season as Michigan plummeted to a last-place finish in the Big Ten for the first time since 1967.

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel made the call to fire Howard without cause two days after an eight-win season ended with a loss to Penn State in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament.

“After a comprehensive review of the program, I have decided that Juwan will not return as our men’s basketball coach,” Manuel said in a statement from the school that did not include a comment from Howard. “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.”

Manuel hired Howard, who had tears of joy at his introductory news conference in May 2019 when John Beilein bolted to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers after turning the Wolverines into a national power.

A message seeking comment was left with Beilein, who is potentially a candidate to return to Michigan.

Early in the 2021-22 season, following a run to an NCAA Tournament regional final, Manuel gave Howard a five-year extension worth more than $16.9 million that had him under contract through the 2025-26 season.

Michigan will owe Howard about $7 million for his base salary and additional compensation plus a lump-sum payment of $3 million for firing him without cause in year three of his deal, according to terms of his contract.

The 51-year-old Howard had heart surgery in September and returned to his head coaching duties in mid-December after a review of an incident involving several individuals during a team practice. Former strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson did not join the team on the sideline for its Dec. 10 game at Iowa, and was not on the team’s bench in subsequent games.

Sanderson resigned last week and was hired by Illinois’ basketball program as a sports performance consultant on Thursday.

Manuel said in a Dec. 15 statement that a “thorough internal review” did not uncover anything that warranted disciplinary action for anyone involved.

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