Wisconsin HC Greg Gard: ‘We have to transition out of the years gone by, the days of old’

Wisconsin Badgers head coach Greg Gard joined ESPN Milwaukee’s “Wilde and Tausch” on Wednesday and discussed the current state of his program in the ever-changing college basketball landscape.

At the center of the conversation was the current money-driven age of the sport, and the need for programs such as Wisconsin to move past previous recruiting tactics and program pillars. The current age of college athletics may be an unwelcome sight for most fans and followers, but it is forcing Wisconsin to change the way it fundamentally operates.

Related: An updated list of Wisconsin basketball’s transfer portal targets

“We have to transition out of the years gone by, the days of old,” Gard said in the radio interview. “It is a very financially driven business right now. … There are so many other hands at play in this with agents and runners and those things. You lived in the professional sports world; you never talked to your head coach, Mark (Tauscher), about your contract. Agents handle all of that. Agents to front offices, agents to agents. So a lot of this is done with the student-athlete, or the athlete in the pro ranks, not in the room.

Wisconsin has long been a program built on improvement, development and four-year relationships. Most of that flies in the opposite direction of what Gard describes — a world where the head coach sometimes cannot even help a program’s recruiting effort.

These comments come during a tumultuous time for the Badgers. The 2023-24 team went 22-14 and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Since then, the program has lost veteran forward Tyler Wahl to graduation and star guards A.J. Storr and Chucky Hepburn to the transfer portal.

It has massive holes to fix entering an important season, but Gard and his staff have had no luck thus far filling those voids. Most of the program’s top transfer recruits have committed elsewhere. Whether those were financial decisions is impossible to say, but the recruiting results are not there for the Badgers.

Gard continued his answer with a significant message:

“So it’s really quite simple, cut and dry. That we’re in a business where the financial rewards, if you’re a player that can acquire that,” Gard said. “I don’t blame players. And it’s going on all over the country. We were just immune to it longer than most here at Wisconsin. That’s why I’ve tried to convey that we need to walk out of years gone by. We just avoided it longer than most programs did. But obviously the world is changing, players are having more access to opportunities, and I don’t blame them for moving in those areas that they can financially make a difference.”

Wisconsin fans may not want to hear the commentary as the program continues to struggle to recruit in the transfer portal entering a pivotal 2024-25 campaign. But Gard has a clear idea of what the program must do to succeed in the current age of the sport. It’s now about getting buy-in from the required parties and executing that plan.

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Story originally appeared on Badgers Wire