Wisconsin-Green Bay has begun an investigation into allegations made by a walk-on that coach Brian Wardle verbally abused players. The matter is now being looked into in the wake of walk-on Ryan Bross' transfer from the school and Bross' parents subsequently sending a complaint to the school's athletic department.
This comes after Mike Rice was fired from Rutgers last week in light of an infamous practice video that showed the now former Red Raiders coach verbally and physically assaulting players.
Green Bay's chancellor, Thomas Harden, has acknowledged the investigation and told the Green Bay Press-Gazette, which broke the story on Thursday night, that an independent agency will also help look into the investigation of the complaint and Wardle's practices while coaching there.
Wardle released the following statement Thursday night: "I will be supportive of this process, and I'm confident in the findings. I will have no further comment until it is concluded."
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“We're acting quickly,” Harden said. “We're going to move assertively and bring this to a conclusion as fast as we can.”
Bross, a 7-foot-1 walk-on from Menomonee Falls who redshirted this past season, decided to leave the program after the season and plans to transfer to Concordia University in Mequon next season. The university did not immediately respond to an open records request asking for a copy of the letter sent by Bross' parents. Harden did not discuss the specifics of the letter but said it was the genesis for investigating a claim of mistreatment of a player.
“I think that would categorize the complaint,” Harden said.
Sources familiar with the complaint said the accusation alleged verbal and emotional mistreatment by Wardle but not physical abuse. ...
“I've directed (Wardle) not to discuss it with his coaches and to do nothing that would be viewed as either impeding the investigation, which I don't think he would do anyway,” Harden said. “But I did direct him not to do something or certainly not to do anything that would be punitive. He knew all of that, and he didn't really need to be told that, but I certainly did tell him.”
Wardle is still going on as planned and active in all duties as head coach with the Phoenix. The April recruiting period starts in a couple of weeks. The Press-Gazette contacted Bross' mother, who declined to give details of the family's complaints against Wardle. The school received the letter from the Bross family on Tuesday evening, according to the newspaper.
The Phoenix basketball program has lost four players to transfer in the past two months, according to the Press-Gazette. In three season at the program, Wardle is 47-49.