University leadership declines comment on specific allegations
UW-Green Bay leaders including Chancellor Thomas Harden and Athletics Director Ken Bothof declined media requests for interviews Tuesday after a former member of the men’s basketball team for the first time publicly shared details of his allegations against the program with a local reporter. The University is not commenting on specifics of the case while Green Bay area attorney Joseph Nicks continues his investigation. The University Communication Office released a statement Tuesday that said “The University will continue to decline comment on the investigation until the outside review is finished, all the interviews are completed and the facts are established.” Designated spokesperson Christopher Sampson was quoted by at least one national outlet Tuesday but those comments were limited to repeating for them information already on the record regarding the general nature of the review process and the University’s initial reaction to receiving the complaint.
ESPN columnist quotes Wardle statement, notes need for patience
ESPN.com men’s college basketball blogger Eamonn Brennan wrote about the Green Bay Basketball situation Tuesday, noting that a former player’s allegations against the program’s coach have been made public following the player’s interview with a local newspaper. Brennan, the ESPN columnist, referred to the fact the University has retained a local attorney to review the allegations. Among other things, the column says:
It is important to note that Wardle issued a statement to the Press-Gazette, calling the version of the events in the newspaper “inaccurate”:
“I can assure you the well-being of my players is foremost in my mind at all times,” he said. “I cannot comment on the specific allegations under federal privacy laws. I can say the version of events [the Press-Gazette is] reporting is inaccurate. I have fully cooperated with the Independent Investigator, as have our players and coaches. I fully expect the eyewitnesses to these allegations you are reporting will contradict the version you are reporting.”
It is also worth noting again that these are all merely allegations, and it is now the job of Harden and his independent investigator to get to the bottom of them. We don’t know what is true in the complaints filed by Cougill and Bross. But we do know this: Former Rutgers coach Mike Rice changed the game. For coaches and administrators everywhere, there is now zero room for lapses in oversight, no forgiveness from the public for physical and verbal abuse. There’s even a tendency — if not an outright willingness — to react on behalf of players being treated poorly by an overzealous coach. Whether any of this new paradigm will apply to Wardle and Wisconsin-Green Bay remains to be seen, but the stakes are high.