HomeSportsMichigan's longtime strength coach is resigning after reportedly reaching a settlement

Michigan’s longtime strength coach is resigning after reportedly reaching a settlement

Sanderson had been with the Michigan men’s program since being hired by former head coach John Beilein in 2009. (Photo by Hannah Fountain – CameraSport via Getty Images)

Jon Sanderson, the longtime strength and conditioning coach for the Michigan men’s basketball team, resigned from his position on Friday after 15 years with the program.

The decision comes two months after Sanderson retired from the team.

According to The Athletic, Sanderson and the university have reached a settlement regarding his dismissal, which includes a confidentiality clause.

Sanderson’s departure comes nearly three months after he clashed with Michigan head coach Juwan Howard, ending his time with the men’s team. Since the December 7 incident, Sanderson has primarily worked with the school’s Olympic sports teams.

Documents obtained by The Athletic revealed what Sanderson emailed Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel the day after Sanderson’s confrontation with Juwan Howard.

What led to the incident, according to Sanderson, was an argument between an athletic trainer and senior guard Jace Howard, Juwan’s son. Jace Howard had been out for the entire season at the time due to a stress fracture and asked the training staff why he wasn’t allowed to play yet.

Sanderson wrote that Jace Howard “swore at” the coach and caused a “scene” that prompted several players to stop and look. Sanderson described the scene as “completely out of control” and said the trainer tried to calm Jace Howard down and let him discuss the matter privately. Noticing that the trainer was looking increasingly desperate and “panicked,” Sanderson intervened and yelled at Howard from about 30 feet away, “You’re a student athlete and he’s a professional.” That’s not how you talk to a professional. That is disrespectful and rightly so.” He said he reiterated that the tirade was “disrespectful.”

Sanderson wrote in the email to Manuel that he tried to de-escalate the situation by turning and walking away. When Sanderson looked back, he said Juwan Howard was coming toward him, “angry and ready to fight,” shouting repeatedly as players and staff held him back.

“He continued to aggressively pursue me to fight, while the players and staff did their best to restrain him. He was out of control, it was an ugly scene. I had no choice but to stand my ground, I didn’t back down. A few players and staff also stood in front of me in an attempt to keep us apart,” Sanderson wrote.

Sanderson wrote that players and staff were eventually able to restrain Howard, after which the team began practice and Sanderson went to his office.

Even as Juwan Howard adopted a zero-tolerance policy for his infamous punch of a Wisconsin assistant coach in 2022, he was cleared by the university in mid-December following an HR review. Manuel’s statement read: “Based on a thorough internal investigation, nothing has been found that warrants disciplinary action for anyone involved.”

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PISCATAWAY, NJ - FEBRUARY 29: Juwan Howard head coach of the Michigan Wolverines on the sideline during the first half of the college basketball game against Rutgers.  (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)PISCATAWAY, NJ - FEBRUARY 29: Juwan Howard head coach of the Michigan Wolverines on the sideline during the first half of the college basketball game against Rutgers.  (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

PISCATAWAY, NJ – FEBRUARY 29: Juwan Howard head coach of the Michigan Wolverines on the sideline during the first half of the college basketball game against Rutgers. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Jace Howard told the Detroit Free Press in December that the incident was “obviously a misunderstanding based on what the reports were, it was almost completely untrue.” When asked for his version, Juwan Howard said referring to Manuel’s statement: “I think it was clear. It was precise.”

Sanderson was hired by Michigan in 2009 by former men’s head coach John Beilein. When Howard took over in 2019, he kept Sanderson as part of his staff.

The Michigan men’s basketball team is currently 8-21 and has lost its last six games and 10 of its previous 11. The team falls one loss short of the school record for losses in a single season.

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