What University of Wisconsin men’s basketball fans dreaded for months became reality Tuesday night when Bo Ryan officially announced his retirement, effective immediately.
Former associate head coach Greg Gard has been promoted for the remainder of the 2015-16 season as interim head coach.
During his postgame news conference, which came after UW’s 69-54 win 0ver Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Ryan began talking about his future.
He said he and Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez decided handing the team over to Gard after the end of the first semester would be a good time for the transition.
Before the season began in June, Ryan said he would retire at the end of this season, but ultimately decided now would be the time.
“Greg’s ready,” Ryan said. “The staff is ready.
“There’s nobody more prepared than him.”
Ryan then finished his remarks by thanking the greater university community.
In his 14 full seasons at UW, Ryan led the Badgers to 14 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. seven Sweet 16s, three Elite Eights, two Final Fours and one NCAA title game appearance, including the 11 winningest seasons in Wisconsin history.
Ryan retires as the winningest coach in Wisconsin history, with a record of 364-130 (.737 winning percentage). In his career throughout the Division III and Division I levels of college basketball, Ryan went 747-233 (.762 winning percentage). He has the highest winning percentage of all time among any head coach at .717 (172-68).
“His record speaks for himself. He’s a legend. He’s a hall of famer,” Alvarez said. “He’s won his way at every level.”
Gard, who has been an assistant under Ryan for more than 20 seasons, now enters his first head coaching role.
He’s followed Ryan from their Division III days at UW-Plateville, where they won four national championships. They then rebuilt the UW-Milwaukee program before coming to Madison and enduring the greatest success in program history. Gard has handled primary recruiting duties for a while now.
Gard, who said he’s never had more than a one-year contract during his entire coaching career, said there’s no time to feel pressure.
“For me, it’s never been about the pressure that way,” Gard said. “Our job is to still put these young men in the best position possible to have success here.”
Alvarez said he will evaluate Gard as the season goes on, and there will still be a national search for the Badgers’ next head coach, just like he planned back in June.
And as Bo Ryan, the man who changed the face of the Wisconsin basketball program and imprinted a lasting legacy on this state, departed the podium, he left the UW community with the following words:
“I’ll see you down the road.”