Longtime Michigan basketball strength coach resigns, paints chilling picture of Juwan Howard

Though considered the heart and soul of the Michigan basketball program, strength and conditioning coach Jon Sanderson is no longer with the program.

Hired by John Beilein in his third year, 2009, the former Ohio State player transformed Wolverines through what had been affectionately called ‘Camp Sanderson.’ But after a Dec. 7 altercation between him and head coach Juwan Howard — who retained Sanderson when he was hired in 2019 — Sanderson went on a leave of absence and then continued working with the Olympic sports on campus. But as of Friday, he’s no longer with the program according to The Athletic. (subscription required)

Jon Sanderson, the longtime Michigan basketball strength and conditioning coach and key figure on the staff of two Final Four teams, has officially parted ways with the university after 15 years with the program.

The university confirmed Sanderson’s departure in a statement to The Athletic, saying: “Jon Sanderson has resigned his position with the University of Michigan Athletic Department, effective March 1. We appreciate Jon’s contributions over the years and wish him the best going forward.”

Sanderson’s exit comes after reaching a settlement with the university, two sources briefed on the agreement said. That agreement includes a non-disclosure clause, those sources said.

The altercation stemmed from Sanderson criticizing team captain Jace Howard, Juwan’s son, who had been out for the season with a stress fracture. The Athletic obtained an e-mail that Sanderson sent to Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel.

While it’s Sanderson’s official record of events and the other side is not accounted for, it is a chilling tale of the Michigan basketball head coach’s actions.

Sanderson wrote that Jace Howard “was berating” the trainer and caused a “scene” that prompted several players to stop and watch. Sanderson described the scene as “totally out of control,” and said the trainer was trying to calm Jace Howard down and get him to discuss the matter privately. Noticing the trainer looking increasingly desperate and “panicked,” Sanderson intervened, yelling at Howard from roughly 30 feet away “you’re a student athlete and he is a professional. You don’t talk to a professional like that. That is disrespectful and entitled.” He said he repeated that the tirade was “disrespectful.”

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

“He kept aggressively pursuing me to fight, as the players and staff were doing 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 of the players and staff got in front of me as well in an effort to keep us separated,” Sanderson wrote.

Howard was ‘cleared’ of wrongdoing by the athletic department a week after the reported incident. The Wolverines head coach is also reportedly on a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy following an on-court altercation with the Wisconsin bench in 2022 where he open-palm hit Badgers assistant Joe Krabbenhoft. It wasn’t the first incident that Howard had in controlling his temper, as a late-game verbal altercation took place with former Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon the previous year.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire