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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UW football coach Gary Andersen leaving for Oregon State

Hayley Cleghorn

Wisconsin football head coach Gary Andersen will be leaving the team for a head coaching position at Oregon State University, Wisconsin Athletics Director Barry Alvarez announced Wednesday afternoon.

The football team will be without Andersen for its bowl game Jan. 1 against Auburn, Alvarez said in statement, adding that he has already begun the search for the next coach.

“I began working to find a new head coach as soon as I spoke with Gary this morning,” Wisconsin Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez said in a statement released in the late afternoon. “I want to thank Gary for his two years here and commend him on the way his team performed on the field, in the classroom and in the community. I wish him the best at Oregon State.”


Alvarez was in New York this morning and was in the airport waiting for his flight when senior associate Athletic Director Walter Dickey called Alvarez and told him that Andersen wished to tell him something, but wanted it to be face-to-face. However, Andersen informed Alvarez that he intended to resign and accept the Oregon State job by phone shortly thereafter.

When Alvarez returned to Madison in the afternoon, he and Andersen met in his office, where Andersen reiterated his intentions to Alvarez.

At around 4 p.m., Andersen informed the team of his decision. Then, Alvarez addressed the team. He said that he told them to embrace the change and be better because of it.

“Some of the young players were a little more emotional. The old guys, as I tried to stress to them two years ago, that everyone’s afraid of change, but let’s use it as a life lesson. Let’s embrace change. Because you can grow through change,” Alvarez said. “And I promised them that our program would not take a step back. We will replace Coach Andersen with another excellent coach and staff.”

After Alvarez’s talk, he said several seniors approached him asking him to coach the team in the Outback Bowl in just over three weeks. He said he would decide if that was a reasonable option tonight.  

Alvarez said it was his goal to hire Andersen’s replacement prior to the bowl game.

“I’ll try to make contact with people, judge interest of people,” Alvarez said. “And try to move as quickly as we possibly can through our system and through our process that we have to follow.

“You’ll have a good coach sittin’ in front of ya soon.”

Chris Bumbaca/The Badger Herald

Alvarez said Andersen had told him that this new job would be an opportunity for he and his family to return to the West Coast. Andersen is from Utah.

“Gary said he felt like this was an opportunity for he and his family to get back to that part of the country,” Alvarez said. “He felt that he had to follow through with that opportunity. That was the extent of the conversation.”

“Gary made the decision for family matters.”

Alvarez said that he had no problem with the way Andersen was running the program and didn’t feel that Wisconsin’s blowout loss in the Big Ten Championship game were factors in the decision.

“I thought Gary and his staff did a very good job,” Alvarez said. “Nobody liked the way they played in the last game, but that happens occasionally. I think it was a very good two years. And again, his main concern always in his decision-making was the best interest of the kids and I appreciate that.”

Andersen spent just two seasons at UW after arriving from Utah State, taking the place of Brett Bielema. He went 19-7 and 13-2 in the Big Ten in his two seasons at UW, winning the Big Ten West division this season after losing in the Capital One Bowl last season to South Carolina.

As for Wisconsin’s next coach, Alvarez said he wanted to hire someone with prior head-coaching experience. He said the decision would be made with the consultation of Dickey and Bruce Van De Velde, another senior associate AD, and added that he expects his phone to be very busy these next couple of days.

“As all of you know, I always keep a short list [of potential candidates],” Alvarez said. “We will proceed in our search for a new head coach immediately.

“We’ll go hire a good head coach, get him started, get him started recruiting,” Alvarez said. “I know one thing. I won’t flinch.”

Alvarez would not say who was on that short list.

Alvarez had a chance to speak with the assistant coaches not out on recruiting trips before the scheduled practice time. The team did not practice Wednesday.

UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank thanked Andersen for his service to the student-athletes in a joint statement with Alvarez.

“I look forward to working with Barry Alvarez as he selects the next coach of the Wisconsin Badgers.”

Eric Kohlbeck and Chris Bumbaca reported on this story.

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