GREEN BAY, Wis. – Something just didn’t add up for Rob Brost.
When allegations of mistreatment by Brian Wardle toward his University of Wisconsin-Green Bay men’s basketball players came to light in April, it didn’t add up for Brost, head coach at Bolingbrook High School.
“Coach Wardle is a stand-up guy who’s done a great job,” Brost said. “Those allegations go against everything I know from dealing with him.”
Wardle, a former Hinsdale Central basketball star, was the lead recruiter when UWGB landed former Bolingbrook player Troy Snyder in 2009, and he was on the Phoenix’s staff (he took over as head coach in 2010) when Bolingbrook’s Russell Burns, Diamond Taylor and Ben Moore were recruited to play there.
Snyder, who transferred to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore after the 2010-11 season to be closer to his mother who lives in Maryland, said he didn’t follow the story too closely but had a similar reaction to Brost’s.
“Wardle, he was a guy who would yell at you, but it was because he wanted you to play better and believed you could play better,” Snyder said. “As far as some of the stuff I read, I never saw anything like that. He never used any profanity.
“If he’s yelling at you but keeping you in the game, it means he believes in you. I used it as motivation to play harder, play more focused and play better. I used it as motivation and played through it.”
The university has allowed Wardle to retain his coaching position after the independent investigation by Green Bay attorney Joseph Nicks determined that the accusations were “by no means” certain.
“Some coaches, I believe they have a different way of coaching, a different way of getting through to you,” Snyder said. “Some players know how to respond to that, and some don’t.”
Among the allegations to surface against Wardle were that he forced one player to participate in a preseason conditioning drill when he was ill, that he encouraged the same player to have sex in order to play better, and that he did not let that player complete course work toward a pre-med field of study because it would interfere with basketball. Another player complained of relentless verbal abuse.
Wardle has limited his media exposure since the allegations were made and after the investigation concluded, although he did speak with two media outlets in Green Bay.
“What I want people to understand is this is not a woe is me situation,” Wardle said to WGBA-TV NBC26. “My main concern has always been my family, my wife, my three kids, my parents and all my family back home that had to read things in their local papers, and my current players and staff and their families. Those were my concerns. I really didn’t think much about myself.”
Wardle also told WGBA that the adversity created by the investigation in a way helped the team.
“I think it is only going to make us better,” Wardle said. “Our locker room leadership [is better], and our players had to mature quickly during this process. I got better as a coach and learned a lot of lessons through this process, and I think we are going to be a better program because of it.”
Wardle led Hinsdale Central to back-to-back state tournament appearances before graduating in 1997 and went on to play at Marquette University. He was the youngest men’s basketball coach in Division I at age 30 when he was hired in 2010. Last winter marked his best season as Green Bay’s head coach with an 18-16 record.