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Report mostly clears UW-Green Bay coach of mistreatment allegations; coach to keep his job

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay men's basketball coach Brian Wardle will keep his job after an independent review largely cleared him of allegations that he mistreated his players, university officials said Friday.

At least one player had accused Wardle of using vulgar and obscene language, and a second player told officials Wardle forced him to work out until the player lost control of his bowels and then ridiculed him. There were no allegations of physical abuse.

An independent review led by attorney Joseph Nicks, a former local prosecutor, concluded that "a good deal of what was alleged did not occur as it was stated," Chancellor Tom Harden said.

Wardle will not be fired, but the university will place a disciplinary letter in his personnel file and assign him an adviser to help him improve how he motivates players. The school also said Wardle's contract, which expires in 2017, would not be extended during 2013.

Harden said the coach acknowledged using unacceptable language in criticism and comments to players.

"We do not accept this sort of treatment or language in the classroom," Harden said. "And we should not accept it on the court or in the locker room."

Wardle, 33, has been UW-Green Bay's head coach for three years and an assistant coach for five years. He released a statement through the university saying it's his responsibility to treat his student athletes as though they were his own children.

"I am confident that our players are in a healthy environment where they can reach their academic and athletic potential. I believe the University's findings support my claim," he said.

One of the students who leveled misconduct charges was former freshman center Ryan Bross. He said Wardle abused him verbally, made comments about his sex life and interfered with his academic course choices. He also said he felt sick during one practice but the coach kept working him to the point that Bross lost control of his bowels.

Harden said the independent report suggested the incident didn't happen exactly as Bross alleged. However, Harden added that Wardle should have sent the player back to the locker room at an earlier point in the drill.

The parents of a second player, senior forward Brennan Cougill, also filed a complaint accusing Wardle of minimizing their son's clinical depression as a "distraction" to the team.

Once the allegations surfaced, the father of a third UW-Green Bay player spoke out in Wardle's defense. Orrin Brown, the father of junior center Alec Brown, said his son considered Wardle demanding and impassioned but that his son never reported any sort of abuse or mistreatment.

UW-Green Bay's investigation began about the time that Rutgers basketball coach Mike Rice was fired for being abusive to his own players. A videotape surfaced that showed Rice grabbing players in practice, throwing balls at them and using gay slurs.

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Online:

UW-Green Bay's profile page on Wardle: http://bit.ly/12SQD6o