MADISON — The University of Wisconsin officially removed the interim label from Greg Gard’s title, making the Iowa–Grant and UW–Platteville graduate the 16th men’s basketball coach in UW history.
As the wins piled up through the month of February, Wisconsin won 11 of 12 games before closing the regular season with a 91–80 loss at Purdue Sunday night, Gard quickly became the odds on favorite to lead the Badgers on a full-time basis.
Rumors leaked last week that UW was set to name Gard its next head coach. On Monday, it did.
The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents approved his contract Monday night.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be named the head coach at the University of Wisconsin,” Gard said. “I’m extremely thankful to Coach Alvarez, the Athletic Board and the Board of Regents for this incredible opportunity to lead my home-state program into the future. It’s a role and a responsibility that I cherish and take extremely seriously. It’s been a long journey over the last quarter-century or so, but for me to be able to spend my entire career in this state and be surrounded by such incredible support has been vital to my success. I am so grateful to everyone who has played an integral part in my development.”
Gard, 45, took over as the Badgers’ interim head coach when long-time head coach Bo Ryan abruptly retired on Dec. 15 at a postgame press conference following a 64–49 non-conference victory over Texas A&M–Corpus Christi.
“I am thankful to Coach Ryan for the opportunity he gave me to be a college coach over 25 years ago. He has been a positive mentor in the professional development of my career and showed great confidence in my abilities and potential as I grew as a young coach.
“I’m looking forward to building on the great tradition at Wisconsin and representing my home state in a manner that can make Badger fans proud.”
Gard led the Badgers to an 84–79 win over Green Bay in his head coaching debut on Dec. 23, but Wisconsin then went 1–4 to start the Big Ten Conference season, leaving UW at 9-9 overall, but it didn’t take long for the Badgers to adjust to a new coach. Wisconsin proceeded on a run that saw them become one of the nation’s hottest teams down the stretch of the regular season, winning 11 of their final 13 games.
Over the final seven weeks of the season, Wisconsin lost just twice — on the road at No. 8 Michigan State on Jan. 17 and Sunday at No. 15 Purdue.
UW finished the regular season 20–11 overall and tied for third place in the Big Ten standings with a 12–6 mark, extending its streak of top-four finishes to a league-record 16th consecutive season The Badgers are 13–6 this season under Gard.
In 15 seasons on the Badgers’ bench, Gard has never seen the Badgers finish lower than fourth while amassing a mark of 184–74 (.713) in Big Ten play.
Gard joined the UW staff when Ryan became head coach 2001, and he was promoted to associate head coach in 2008, serving as the Badgers’ recruiting coordinator in addition to on-floor coaching duties, opponent scouting and game preparation, and the constructing of future game schedules.
Gard helped guide the Badgers to back-to-back Final Four appearances in 2014 and 2015, and in 2015 UW reached its first national championship game since 1941.
Gard came to the Badgers after spending two seasons as Ryan’s assistant at UW–Milwaukee (1999–2001).
Previously, Gard served as an assistant coach to Ryan at UW–Platteville from 1993–99. During Gard’s years on the Pioneer staff, UW-Platteville compiled a 161–13 (.925) record and won three NCAA Division III titles, five straight Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) championships and appeared in six consecutive NCAA tournaments.
Prior to joining Ryan’s staff in Platteville, Gard spent three seasons at Southwestern High School and one at Platteville High School, where he served in junior high and assistant varsity coaching capacities.
Gard is a 1995 graduate of UW–Platteville with a degree in physical and health education. He received a master’s degree in counselor education from Platteville in 2007. He is also a 1989 graduate of Iowa–Grant High School. Gard and his wife, Michelle, have two daughters, Mackenzie and Peyton, and a son, Isaac.