MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s seniors were critical of coach Greg Gard during a late-season team meeting that was secretly recorded and later sent to a newspaper.
The Wisconsin State Journal says it received a 37-minute audio file this week of a Feb. 19 team meeting that included seven senior players, Gard and three assistant coaches. The newspaper said it received the recording from an anonymous email account and that it included only a portion of the actual meeting.
During the meeting, forward Nate Reuvers tells Gard that “we don’t have a relationship” and that “I personally don’t think or feel like you care about our future aspirations.” Guard Walt McGrory tells Gard that “I don’t know if I’ll ever talk to you again after this.”
Gard issued a statement saying he has his “players’ backs” and is fully committed to their development.
“I care deeply about the student-athletes in our program,” Gard said. “I want nothing more than to help them and see them succeed on and off the court. Our program has a lengthy track record of doing both. But the path to a championship or to graduation is not always easy. Sometimes there are setbacks. Difficult conversations have to be had. Sometimes people just need to get things off their chest.”
Gard added that he was “incredibly disappointed” that a private meeting was “secretly recorded, edited and made public.”
“It shows a complete lack of care for our program culture and for the confidentiality that is owed to our student-athletes who wanted an opportunity to share their thoughts behind closed doors," Gard said.
Athletic director Barry Alvarez, who is retiring at the end of the month, said in a statement that "Greg, his staff and his team have my full support as they look toward the 2021-22 season." Chris McIntosh, who has been deputy athletic director since 2017, will be the new athletic director.
In the State Journal report, an unidentified player described the meeting by saying that Gard “sat there, he listened and there was not one dry eye in the entire room at the end of everything." The player added that, "the biggest thing that he did at the end was he apologized again and he was in tears and he said, ‘It’s not your fault, it’s my fault.’”
Wisconsin went 18-13 and lost to eventual national champion Baylor in the second round of the NCAA Tournament this past season. The Badgers had opened the season ranked seventh after winning a share of the Big Ten title in 2019-20.
Gard owns a 119-70 record in six seasons.
Although the NCAA gave seniors the options to return for one more year of eligibility because of the pandemic, Brad Davison is the only one of Wisconsin’s seven 2020-21 seniors who plans to play for the Badgers next season.