A remorseful Howard took full ownership for his actions.
“I take full ownership for my actions,” Howard said. “I can talk about the timeout, the pull on the arm, the exchange between the coaches, but those are excuses. That was not the right thing to do. That is not how I am supposed to carry myself as a head coach at the fine institution of the University of Michigan.”
Howard spoke on how truly upset he was at himself for his actions. He said during the time off, he did some soul searching on how he could improve moving forward.
“During that time off, I reflected on how I can be better as the best version of myself, better as a person, better as a coach,” Howard said. “As a person, I sought therapy because I want to be a better person, a better coach, and I feel that was the right thing to do to help improve as a person. I got a chance to see what areas that I can improve on, not just now, but for the future, because I enjoy being here, and I enjoy being at this program.”
Howard knew between his postgame press conference and when he released a statement that he had made a mistake.
“I care,” Howard said. “I have a heart, and I knew when I got back on the bus that I was upset with how I conducted myself during that moment at the press conference. What I said wasn’t from the heart, and as you know, the next day, after reflecting and thinking about it, that statement that I made came from the heart. That was what I meant to say, and that’s what came from the heart. That was what I meant to say, and I apologize for my actions.”
Howard is back in the fold after serving his five-game suspension for slapping assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft at the end of a Feb. 20 game against the Wisconsin Badgers.
The altercation not only cost Howard five games, but he was also hit in the pockets, receiving a hefty $40,000 fine.
Although he hasn’t reached out to the Badgers coaching staff, Howard said he plans to after the season is over, because he knows that, like him, Badgers head coach Greg Gard is involved in trying to get his team to the finish line.
Howard met with each member of the team Monday during the group’s off day, as they prepare for the second round of the Big Ten Tournament, during which they will match up against Mike Woodson and his Indiana Hoosiers.
Howard said he wanted to meet with his student-athletes one by one to see how he could improve their partnership.
“I love talking to people face-to-face instead of on the phone,” Howard said. “I wanted to talk to them individually and see how we could come together, because it is a partnership. We are embarking on a goal that all of us are trying to achieve, which is a Big Ten title and an NCAA title, if we get the opportunity to compete for postseason play in March.”
Howard said that Hunter Dickinson stopped by his home while he was away from the sideline.
“Knowing that your players who you’re in the trenches with were so supportive and cared about me and my well-being was everything to me,” Howard said. “Having Hunter come by the house was very touching.”
“We had a conversation the next day,” Howard said. “As we all decompressed, we talked, and it was a good conversation about accountability, taking ownership, no excuses, and we talked about learning through this process. I also reached out to the student-athletes’ parents, as well. They have all been extremely supportive.”
Howard’s first game back on the sideline will tip-off at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, as Michigan tries to solidify its NCAA Tournament standing against Indiana.
Here’s more on Howard’s comments from Local 4′s Bernie Smilovitz: