Heat assistant Juwan Howard leaves to take Michigan job

Former Wolverines star returns to alma mater as head coach

Miami Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard has been a part of Erik Spoelstra's staff since he retired in 2013. (Manuela Davies/Getty Images)

MIAMI – Miami Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard is returning to his alma mater as its next head coach.

The University of Michigan announced Wednesday that Howard, 46, has been named the next coach of the Wolverines.

He replaces John Beilein, who left to become head coach of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers.

"I am very excited about the opportunity to lead the University of Michigan's storied basketball program," Howard said. "I have been very fortunate to be part of a great championship organization in the Miami Heat for the last nine years -- three as a player and six as a coach. It was always going to take something incredibly special to for me to leave Miami. However, I know in my heart this is the right place and the right time."

A 1994 first-round draft pick, Howard spent 19 seasons in the NBA, including the last three with the Heat.

Howard had been a part of head coach Erik Spoelstra's staff since he retired in 2013.

"Juwan is an absolute star as a person, player and coach," Spoelstra said. "I feel he is more than ready. He is a terrific leader and mentor, which translates very well to the collegiate level. While we are losing a valuable member of our staff and a great friend, I am happy for him and his family."

The Wolverines made back-to-back national championship game appearances with Howard, losing to Duke in the 1992 Final Four and North Carolina in the 1993 Final Four. He averaged 15.3 points per game in three seasons at Michigan.

Michigan's Juwan Howard answers questions from the media during Michigan's annual picture day, Oct. 26, 1993, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Wolverines finished second in the NCAA basketball tournament the previous two years.

Howard previously interviewed for the vacant Minnesota Timberwolves job.

"I'm happy for Juwan, (his wife) Jenine and his family and feel he is deserving of this opportunity to coach at the University of Michigan," Heat President Pat Riley said. "He is going to back to a school and a conference in which he is revered. I think it is a great step forward for him and the university, and I wish him nothing but the best, because that's what he's given us."

Howard agreed to a five-year deal, starting at $2 million annually, with a base salary of $400,000.

Hours before the announcement, Howard's wife took to Twitter with two words: "Go BLUE."

"It feels great to be coming home," Howard said. "Go Blue!"

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