MSU's Tom Izzo Against Eliminating Handshake Line After Juwan Howard Altercation

Adam WellsFebruary 22, 2022

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo gives instructions during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Illinois, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022, in East Lansing, Mich. Illinois won 79-74. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
AP Photo/Al Goldis

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo is strongly against the idea of eliminating the postgame handshake line in the wake of Sunday's incident between Michigan's Juwan Howard and Wisconsin coaches Greg Gard and Joe Krabbenhoft. 

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Izzo called the possibility of not having the handshake line "the biggest farce, joke, ridiculous nature of anything I've ever heard of."

The Big Ten Conference announced on Monday that Howard has been fined $40,000 and suspended for the rest of the regular season for shoving Krabbenhoft in the face after the Wolverines' 77-63 loss to Wisconsin. 

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Juwan Howard strikes Wisconsin assistant Joe Krabbenhoft after Michigan-Wisconsin game <a href="https://t.co/fbv0WKzbT6">pic.twitter.com/fbv0WKzbT6</a>

Izzo attempted to equate the postgame handshake line with teaching players lessons about sportsmanship and values. 

"We've already taught these poor 18-year-olds that when you're told to go to class and you don't like it, you can leave. We've already told these kids that if you're not happy, you can do something else. We've already told these kids that it's hard to hold them accountable," he said.

Howard put his finger in the face of Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard, who appeared to stop Howard from walking past him in the line by grabbing his arm, and grabbed at his shirt before Krabbenhoft intervened. 

During his postgame press conference, Howard explained he took exception to Gard calling a timeout with 15 seconds remaining in the game when the Badgers were up 76-61. 

"I didn’t like the timeout being called, to be totally honest," said Howard. "I thought it was not necessary at that moment, especially being a large lead."

In the aftermath of the skirmish, there were conflicting discussions from members of the media about doing away with the postgame handshake line. 

Seth Davis @SethDavisHoops

And I don't want to hear people say "this is why we should get rid of handshake lines." If you can't handle a handshake line, you shouldn't be in college athletics.

Dick Vitale @DickieV

The time has come to eliminate the line after games of shaking hands . Too many incidents taking places with the action in the <a href="https://twitter.com/BadgerMBB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BadgerMBB</a> vs <a href="https://twitter.com/umichbball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@umichbball</a> being SICKENING . Punches thrown behavior was out of control &amp; UGLY ! The <a href="https://twitter.com/B1GMBBall?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@B1GMBBall</a> Commish must act on what happened .

Jeff Eisenberg @JeffEisenberg

There were multiple opportunities for Juwan Howard to apologize or admit he erred during his postgame press conference. He instead doubled down, calling Greg Gard's timeout "not necessary" and insisting that Gard touching him in the handshake line was what "escalated it."

Howard has had issues with opposing coaches before. He was ejected in the second half of a 2019 Big Ten tournament game against Maryland for getting into a verbal altercation with Mark Turgeon.

A member of Michigan's famed 1991-92 Fab Five team, Howard was named head basketball coach at his alma mater in May 2019. He led the Wolverines to a regular-season Big Ten title and an appearance in the Elite Eight in the 2020-21 season. 

Michigan (14-11, 8-7 in the Big Ten) has five games remaining in the regular season. The Big Ten tournament will begin March 9 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. 

The Wolverines and Spartans are scheduled to play at the Breslin Center on March 1. Michigan State beat Michigan 83-67 in Ann Arbor on Jan. 29.