Phear the Phoenix

Fans of the Green Bay Phoenix men's basketball program


Brian Wardle leaving GB for Bradley

Posted by Brian Dickmann on March 29, 2015 at 12:00 AM

Brian Wardle will be the next head coach at Bradley University, the school announced Friday evening.

He will replace Geno Ford, who was recently fired after compiling a 46-86 record in four years at Bradley. The Braves are coming off a 9-24 season in which they finished last in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Wardle will be introduced at a press conference this evening on the Bradley campus in Peoria, IL.

He was mentioned among 5 potential candidates for the position, including Michigan State assistant and former IPFW head coach Dane Fife, former Indiana and current Texas Southern head coach Mike Davis, recently fired Alabama head coach Anthony Grant, and South Dakota State head coach Scott Nagy.

While on the surface it may seem like a lateral move at best to move from a winning Horizon League program like Green Bay to a team that has finished below .500 in 4 of the last 5 seasons and hasn't finished in the top half of the MVC since 2009-2010, Bradley offers an increase in competition as well as a return to Wardle's home state of Illinois.

“It’s an honor to be the next head coach at Bradley,” Wardle said in a statement. “Being from Illinois and understanding the program’s success, tradition, and support was a real draw for me. I am excited to bring my family to Peoria, getting to know the community and building a foundation and identity for Bradley Basketball to last a long time.”

There's also the money. Geno Ford was making triple that of Wardle with a base salary of $700,000 that could have escalated to $900,000 with incentives. Bradley is committed to men's basketball, spending the 2nd most in the Missouri Valley Conference behind only Wichita State. Their $3.8 million in 2013 is more than double than that of Green Bay, who spent $1.4 million.

Wardle signed a new 5-year contract last April with the Phoenix after leading the program to its first Horizon League regular season championship since 1996. The extension included a bump in base pay up to $230,000 with other possible incentive-based increases. He earned a $3,000 bonus for reaching the NIT this season which could've gone up to $10,000 had the Phoenix reached the semi-finals.

He was 95-65 in five seasons as head coach at Green Bay, leading the Phoenix to NIT bids the past two seasons.

“We are committed to a men’s basketball program that competes for championships, succeeds in the classroom, and represents our University and community in a positive light, on and off the court,” Green Bay athletic director Mary Ellen Gillespie said in a statement. “Green Bay basketball has a strong tradition and our next coach will build upon that tradition and take our program to the next level."

As for a list of possible replacements, the Green Bay Press-Gazette lists "St. Norbert College coach and former Phoenix player Gary Grzesk, Wisconsin associate head coach Greg Gard, UW- Stevens Point head coach Bob Semling, Cardinal Stritch University head coach Drew Diener, and University of Washington assistant T.J. Otzleberger."

Also, Green Bay associate head coach Brian Barone told the Press-Gazette he is interested in the position, saying, "I love it here in Green Bay. I would love the job. I'm proud of what we have done here. I think we can continue to do well."

Categories: Coaching search

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