March 4, 2024

Michigan’s Juwan Howard will return to the bench as the Wolverines‘ head coach on Saturday, athletic director Warde Manuel announced Friday.

It will be Howard’s first game this season as the team’s full-time head coach after undergoing a heart procedure in September.

Howard has also avoided any discipline following an incident at practice last week. He was involved in an altercation with strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson, sources told ESPN.

No punches were thrown, according to multiple sources, but the two men needed to be separated. Sanderson was not in attendance for Michigan’s game against Iowa last Sunday, while Howard traveled with the team and was on the bench.

“The return of our usual coaching structure comes after a review of an incident involving several individuals during a team practice last week,” Manuel said. “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.”

Michigan’s game against Eastern Michigan on Saturday will be the next step in a gradual return to his full-time role for Howard.

The scheduled September operation was to resect an aortic aneurysm and repair an aortic valve, conditions identified during a routine medical check earlier in the offseason. Howard returned to the bench during Michigan’s trip to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis as an observer and has transitioned to an assistant coach role for the last two weeks.

“Coach Howard, his doctors and our medical experts remain aligned in taking this next step as he recovers from a September heart procedure,” Manuel said.

Associate head coach Phil Martelli served as Michigan’s interim head coach during Howard’s absence.

“We greatly appreciate associate head coach Phil Martelli’s guidance of our program on an interim basis to start the season,” Manuel said. “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 Wolverines sit at 5-5 overall (1-1 in the Big Ten) following a 3-0 start. After Saturday’s game, the Wolverines travel to Charlotte to face Florida in the Jumpman Invitational, before returning home to round out nonconference play against McNeese on Dec. 29.

Big Ten action begins for Michigan on Jan. 4 against Minnesota.

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