Mayhem erupted after No. 15 Wisconsin took care of Michigan, 77-63, on Sunday afternoon in Madison, Wisconsin. What began as an intense post-game handshake line exchange between Michigan coach Juwan Howard and Wisconsin coach Greg Gard quickly escalated to an all-out brawl that involved players and coaches from both teams.
The madness broke out shortly after the final horn when Gard confronted Howard, who appeared to be slow to enter the handshake line, just near the scorer’s table. Gard physically stopped Howard from moving past him and the two exchanged words before tensions rose in a hurry.
Howard pushed his finger into Gard’s face, which led to even more intense discussion, before Howard took a swing at Wisconsin assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft and landed an open-hand strike. Things quickly escalated from there with players getting into a brawl.
Gard called timeout as the Badgers led 76-61 with only 15 seconds left in the game. It appears that decision bothered Howard, which ultimately led to the tension postgame.
“Apparently, he didn’t like that I called a timeout to reset the 10-second call,” Gard told CBS Sports about Howard’s comments preceding the incident. “We only had 4 seconds to get the ball past half court. I didn’t want to put my bench guys in that position of scrambling, so I took the timeout. He did not like that when he came through the handshake line.”
Howard acknowledged in his postgame press conference that the late timeout was indeed why he was heated.
“I didn’t like the timeout they called, I’ll be totally honest,” he said. “I thought it was not necessary at that moment, especially with it being a large lead. … I thought that wasn’t fair to our guys.”
Howard recounted telling Gard that, in reference to the late timeout, he would “remember that”. Michigan’s coach defended his actions by noting that Gard initiated contact in the handshake line.
“For someone to touch me, I think that was very uncalled for,” he said. “That’s what escalated it. … At that point, I thought it was time to protect myself.”
Wisconsin athletic director Chris McIntosh, who addressed the media after the game, said he has been in contact with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren about the incident and expects the league to act “swiftly and aggressively”.
“We’ve got staff who have been affected and injured,” he said. “It’s difficult for me to compose myself in defense of our staff and our team, who did not instigate this event. That is clearly captured on the television feed today and I’m not sure what will take long to address this.”