GREEN BAY - Another University of Wisconsin-Green Bay basketball player is stepping forward to support his former teammate. Senior Brennan Cougill, a former forward for the Phoenix, spoke to FOX 11 and supported redshirt freshman Ryan Bross' allegations of potential verbal and emotional abuse by men's basketball head coach Brian Wardle.
"What [Ryan] Bross was saying about the allegations of defecating himself are definitely true," said Cougill.
In early April, Bross' mother sent the university a letter detailing allegations against Coach Brian Wardle. The university then hired an independent investigator to look into the claims.
In an interview with the Green Bay Press Gazette published Monday evening, Bross detailed allegations against Coach Wardle. FOX 11 confirmed the statements in the article with Bross' lawyer.
In the article, Bross claims Wardle forced him to workout despite telling the coach he was sick. During the workout, where the players were had to run up and down hills, Bross said he lost control of his bowels as he continued to run. Bross claims Wardle later ridiculed him for the incident. Bross also alleges Wardle called him inappropriate names. The player further claimed Wardle would not let him take certain classes he needed for his major, because they may interfere with basketball.
"There was three different sets of running groups, the only people that were in Bross' running group were me and Nick Arenz," said Cougill. "I think we are probably the people closest to that situation that would have the most knowledge other than Bross. Everybody's like, that didn't happen, no way. He came down the hill, started sitting around one day, started walking around, catching his breath. Everybody realized, because you're wearing white shorts, you can't keep it hidden for long."
Cougill also claimed Wardle called players inappropriate names.
"Wardle's equally kind of hard on all of us," said Cougill. "There's a lot of stuff that goes on 1-on-1 when you meet with coaches. What's behind closed doors is behind closed doors. It's between you and coach. He did use 'c***s,' 'p*****s,' he did use word usage like that."
There is another side of the story. Tuesday, two current Phoenix basketball players spoke on a local radio station and supported Coach Wardle.
"It was just shocking this came about," said sophomore guard Keifer Sykes on WNFL. "I feel like everyone knows coach has the best interest of everyone in mind and I feel like he never did anything to abuse anyone."
"Obviously, I don't agree with things that have been said," said junior center Alec Brown on WNFL. "I've been there the longest out of any of the guys. I feel like if I have personally seen any of this happen, I wouldn't still be here. A whole lot of this stuff is not happening the way it's being said."
Through the university, Wardle continues to decline comment on the situation, but released a statement about the allegations.
"I can assure you the well-being of my players is foremost in my mind at all times," said Wardle in the statement. "I cannot comment on the specific allegations under federal privacy laws. I can say the version of events you are reporting is inaccurate. I have fully cooperated with the independent investigator, as have our players and coaches. I fully expect the eyewitnesses to these allegations you are reporting will contradict the version you are reporting."
Cougill's mother also wrote a letter to the university criticizing Wardle's coaching. The letter contained several complaints. In the letter she complained Coach Wardle called her son's depression a distraction. Cougill says he was diagnosed with depression before his sophomore year of college.
"If I was having a bad day, he'd pull me out of practice and be like, ‘you need to stop using this as a crutch,'" said Cougill. "'This is getting ridiculous. Every time you're not doing well, every time you're not doing something, it's like, your depression is just, it's a crutch for you to be like, I have this built-in excuse that I can always use.' That's definitely not true. I mean, if anybody knows about depression, you can wake up one day and feel like you're a million bucks, the next day you feel like death. It was getting kind of ridiculous."
Cougill says he is still close with the returning players on the team and believes in the program.
" We're not looking to tear down the program or destroy anything we have here," said Cougill. "I've spent two years here, I've loved my two years here. Love the community, love the school. It's just about what's right at this point."
A university spokesman told FOX 11 the independent investigator is still interviewing interested parties, and the university could receive the investigator's report as soon as next week.
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