GREEN BAY - Green Bay Phoenix men's basketball coach Brian Wardle is under investigation after a complaint from a former player's parents. The complaint alleges "verbal abuse, emotional abuse, the player wasn't being treated fairly, properly," according to director of university communications Chris Sampson.
Monday evening, FOX 11 spoke with former Green Bay guard Seth Evans about playing for Coach Wardle.
"Me and him had our ups and downs, but I respect a man, he wanted to win as bad as I wanted to win and he was as hard on any player as he was on me," said Evans. "That's just the kind of coach he was: playing for him, he made you have tough skin."
Evans played only one season for Wardle, the 2010-2011 season. Evans appeared in 31 of 32 games off the bench, averaging 3.6 points and almost 18 minutes per game.
Like several other players under Wardle, Evans transferred to play for another school. He says, however, the coaching staff did not play a role in his decision to move. The main reason was that his father retired and moved to Naples, Florida, so Evans, a Marseilles, Illinois native, transferred to play for Florida Southern College in Lakeland.
Coach Wardle issued a statement last Thursday night and declined to comment further until the investigation ends.
"I will be supportive of this process and I'm confident in the findings," said Wardle in the statement.
Evans says he wishes Green Bay the best and respects the staff, even though, in his own words, he "didn't have the best relationship with Coach Wardle," especially his sophomore year, the last season before he transferred.
"I do now, as I've gotten older, even texted Coach Wardle, and he texted me, [I] said I wish I could have done things differently," said Evans. "I do see he was pushing me in the right direction, I just wasn't ready for it at the age of 18."
Green Bay hired attorney Joseph M. Nicks to conduct the investigation into Wardle.
Asked if he saw anything during his time that would constitute emotional or physical abuse, Evans said he didn't. He says Wardle is a young, fiery coach, which would occasionally rub players the wrong way.
"Coach Wardle is a no-nonsense type of guy," said Evans. "He's going to say some things that gets into your skin and gets under you. I went through it. I went through times I wasn't playing as many minutes as I wanted to play, now I look back on it, he was pretty much pushing me. Did he push me, do I think, the right way when I was there, how he pushed me? I think maybe I would've done some different things, but I believe that he did want what was best for me. It is tough, because he's such a fiery and enthusiastic guy, to relate in a calm manner as a player."
The university says there is no timeline for the investigation.
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