Wisconsin’s seven senior men’s basketball players confronted coach Greg Gard and his staff last season over a “disconnect” players felt between them and Gard, issues within the culture of the program and other grievances, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Tuesday after receiving a 37-minute audio file via email from an anonymous source.
The meeting included specific grievances in which they felt Gard did not have their back, did not care for them or that they were being used by him only to improve his coaching resume. Most of all, their complaints stemmed from an apparent disconnect in which the relationship between Gard and the players was either fractured or nonexistent.
“I just feel like, coach, we don’t have a relationship,” Nate Reuvers said on the audio file obtained by the Wisconsin State Journal. “In my mind, it’s too late for that. I personally don’t think or feel like you care about our future aspirations. I can’t talk to you. I just don’t want to talk to you. After this, coach, I don’t know what type of relationship we’re going to have, if we have one.”
Leading scorer D’Mitrik Trice — one of six seniors who opted not to return to Wisconsin in 2021-22 — called out Gard’s approach specifically in the meeting and said Gard would need to make a “big change.” Micah Potter also chimed in and cited a meeting the previous season in which Gard apologized in tears after the abrupt departure of Kobe King.
“Ultimately coach, we just want the guy that came to us last year and apologized in tears,” Potter said on the recording. “I’m not saying you have to cry and apologize. But that was honestly the biggest turning point last year. We felt, ‘Wow, we can play for this guy, we can relate to this guy.'”
“I feel like the disconnect (this season) is we’re not playing for you right now,” Trice added. “We’re not here to build your resume, so to speak, with all respect given.”
Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez issued a statement in support of Gard.
Wisconsin was ranked as high as No. 4 last season after opening as a preseason top-10 team and potential title contender. The Badgers finished the season 18-13 and were not ranked by the postseason. Only senior Brad Davison elected to exercise his extra year of eligibility and return to Wisconsin of the seven who were eligible from last year’s roster, with four turning pro and two transferring.
“We desire a relationship with you where you know who we are, that you care for us, that you value us more than just on the basketball court,” Davison said in the recording. “We want that and feel like we’ve lacked that in certain areas.”
Gard was the longest-tenured assistant on Bo Ryan’s coaching staff at Wisconsin when he was elevated to interim head coach in 2015 when Ryan retired during the season before being tabbed as the full-time head coach. He has amassed a 119-70 record in six seasons and missed the NCAA Tournament once in that span.