The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has opened an investigation of men’s basketball coach Brian Wardle after receiving a complaint of player mistreatment.
A complaint, filed Tuesday with the university, came from the parents of 7-foot-1 freshman center Ryan Bross. The Green Bay Press-Gazette, citing sources familiar with the complaint, indicated the accusation alleged verbal and emotional mistreatment by Wardle but not physical abuse.
“We’re acting quickly,” Wisconsin-Green Bay chancellor Thomas Harden told the Press-Gazette. “We’re going to move assertively and bring this to a conclusion as fast as we can.”
The complaint comes less than a week after Rutgers men’s basketball coach Mike Rice was fired when video evidence revealed he physically and verbally abused players. Harden told the Press-Gazette the Rutgers case had no bearing on his decision to investigate the complaint against Wardle.
Wardle released a statement that read: “I will be supportive of this process and I’m confident in the findings. I will have no further comment until it is concluded.”
Bross intends to transfer to Concordia University in Mequon, Wis. The Press-Gazette noted he was the fourth player to leave the UWGB program since mid-February. Guard Kam Cerroni left on Feb. 14, citing differences with Wardle. Freshman Nick Arenz, who played sparingly, announced his decision to leave shortly after the season. And on Monday, junior guard Sultan Muhammad was given his release. Muhammad started 10 games last season but said he wanted to transfer closer to home in Grand Rapids, Mich., because of a family matter.
Harden told the Press-Gazette his investigation would attempt to determine whether the complaint from Bross’ parents was part of an isolated incident or a sign of a more significant issue.
“I don’t want to make an assumption one way or the other,” Harden said. “We don’t have widespread complaints or allegations. We have this allegation, the complaint that I got Tuesday night, which we do think we need to check out, and we’re going to do it really well.”
Green Bay finished 18-15 last season — Wardle’s best mark in three seasons in charge of the program — and placed third in the Horizon League. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel he has four years remaining on a contract that pays about $200,000 per season.
Wardle played basketball at Marquette University from 1997-2001.