Patrick Ewing wants to end the postgame handshake line

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

As a result of the incident involving Michigan head coach Juwan Howard striking an opposing assistant coach and a skirmish in a postgame handshake line, many people have called into question the significance of the postgame tradition. 

One notable name in particular calling for the non-required action to be removed from college games is Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing. 

Speaking to Smith and Jones on Sportsnet 590 The FAN in Toronto, Ontario, Ewing said if it was up to him, he would remove the handshake line altogether.

"I don't like the handshake line," Ewing said. "I don't like it because anything is possible. You're just getting through a heated battle, a heated game and anything can happen to make things worse, which is what happened in that situation. If it's my call, I think we should just take away the handshake line. Just do like we did last year in COVID. You wave bye and you move on."

Many are steadfast in opposition to Ewing's sentiment. Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo called the idea of removing it 'a farce' and cited class and sportsmanship for reasons to keep it. 

It's a tradition in the sport that is intended to celebrate the competition and respect of one's opponent. But over the years, these postgame incidents continue to happen more frequently. Just two days prior to Howard hitting Wisconsin assistant Joe Krabbenhoft, a North Dakota State-Oral Roberts game ended with a skirmish, resulting from the handshake line. 


According to Ewing, however, the tradition isn't as longstanding as many believe. He doesn't recall having them in the early 1980s. 

"When I played back then, I don't even think they had handshake lines," Ewing said earlier in the interview.

Throughout the head rivalry games with Syracuse and Villanova, he doesn't remember them being as frequent as the expectation is for them now. 

There's no requirement in college basketball for a handshake line. There have been countless memorable times in the sport's history when there wasn't a line. Remember NBC Sports Washington's Wizards analyst Jimmy Patsos in 2017 when he coached Siena?

Howard's punishment is a $40,000 fine and a suspension for the remainder of the regular season (five games). Wisconsin also received punishment and in total three players were suspended for one game.

And if Ewing had his way, there would not have been a handshake line to exacerbate any issues at all.