This upcoming college basketball season will be the last in the illustrious career of UW basketball patriarch Bo Ryan.
Ryan announced the decision to walk away after one more year in a statement Monday afternoon.
“Back in the spring, in the days after the national championship game, [UW Director of Athletics] Barry Alvarez and I discussed the possibility of me retiring,” wrote Ryan in his statement. “I’ve always been told that is not a decision to make right after a season is completed. Barry thankfully encouraged me to take some time to think about it and I have done that. I considered retiring this summer or coaching one more season.
“I’ve decided to coach one more season with the hope that my longtime assistant Greg Gard eventually becomes the head coach at Wisconsin. I am looking forward to another year with our program, including our players, my terrific assistant coaches, our office staff and everyone who supports Wisconsin basketball here in Madison, around the country.”
Ryan’s coaching legacy includes a list of accomplishments a mile wide and a 740–228 overall record in 30 years as a college head coach.
In 14 seasons at UW, Ryan has led the Badgers to 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, seven Sweet 16s, four Big Ten regular season titles (2002, 2003, 2008 and 2015), three Big Ten tournament titles (2004, 2008 and 2015), back-to-back Final Fours (2014 and 2015) and a berth in last year’s national championship game.
The 67-year-old Ryan is 357–125 (.741) as coach of the Badgers, including 171–67 (.719) in Big Ten play, and has taken the program to the NCAA Tournament in every one of his seasons on the bench. His Badgers have never finished worse than fourth in the Big Ten.
Before his arrival in Madison, Ryan spent two years at UW–Milwaukee, and before that he built a sterling reputation with 15 unforgettable years at UW–Platteville.
Ryan’s Pioneer teams posted a 352–76 overall record, an .820 winning percentage. Ryan led UWP to four national championships (1991, 1995, 1998 and 1999) and five Final Four appearances. He also won eight Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships and was the winningest NCAA men’s basketball program of the 1990s (all divisions) with a 266–26 (.908) record.
Ryan began his college coaching career as an assistant for the Badgers from 1976–84.
Ryan’s announcement Monday shocked the basketball world and began immediate speculation about who would follow in his footsteps at Wisconsin.
If Ryan gets his way, Gard will be calling the shots at UW in 2016–17.
Gard’s connection to Ryan dates back 22 years to right here in Grant County.
After three years as at Southwestern High School and a year at Platteville High School, Gard, a 1991 graduate of Iowa–Grant High School, joined Ryan at UW–Platteville in 1993.
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 WIAC championships and appeared in six consecutive NCAA tournaments. In his final year at UW–Platteville, Gard served as Ryan’s top assistant in charge of recruiting, camp operations and scouting. He also worked as an advisor in the university’s admissions office.
In 14 years together at Wisconsin, Ryan and Gard have led the Badgers to a 357–125 (.741) record. In 20 years by Ryan’s side Gard has been a major part of the team success, helping Ryan teams compiling an astounding 518–138 record (.790).
“When I found out that next season would be Coach Ryan’s last as the head of Wisconsin’s Men’s Basketball program I had many mixed feelings,” said 2015 National Player of the Year and recent NBA first-round draft pick Frank Kaminsky in a statement Monday night. “My first reaction was to call a few guys on the current team and see how they were handling the news. After talking to them I called Coach and he told me that in every one of his 40-plus seasons as a head basketball coach his 100 percent focus and attention has been on the success and growth of the young men in his various programs. When and if it ever came to a point where he didn’t feel he was able to do that he would leave coaching. I appreciated hearing this from him, but in reality the reason I called was just to talk ... to hear his voice.
“This is the man who saw something in me at a time when very few did. He took an 18-year old kid and helped him become a man both on and off the court. No words can accurately describe what Coach Ryan has meant to me and how he has changed my life. It makes me happy that the best part of his decision is that he is not done yet. For one last year, everyone will see the same fire and passion he has brought every single day throughout his long and successful career.”