Michigan's longtime strength coach resigns position after reportedly reaching settlement

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

The decision comes two months after Sanderson stopped working with the team.

According to The Athletic, Sanderson and the university reached a settlement upon his resignation — one that includes a non-disclosure clause.

Sanderson's departure comes nearly three months after he got into a confrontation with Michigan head coach Juwan Howard, which ended his time working with the men's team. Since the Dec. 7 incident, Sanderson has primarily worked with the school's Olympic sports teams.

Documents acquired 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 that point with a stress fracture and was questioning the training staff why he had not been cleared yet to play.

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.

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

Even with Juwan Howard being on a zero-tolerance policy due to his infamous punch of a Wisconsin assistant coach in 2022, he was cleared by the university in mid-December after an HR review. Manuel's statement said "based on a thorough internal review, nothing was found to warrant disciplinary action for anyone involved."

Jace Howard told the Detroit Free Press in December that the incident was "obviously a misunderstanding from what the reports were, it was almost completely false." When asked for his version, Juwan Howard said to refer to Manuel's statement, saying "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.

Michigan's men's basketball team is currently 8-21 and have lost their last six games and 10 of their previous 11. The team is one defeat short of the single-season school record for losses.