After tonight’s win over Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Bo Ryan announced he will retire effective immediately, with associate head coach Greg Gard taking over as interim head coach. Ryan announced his decision at his usual press conference after the game.

“After months of conversation with Barry Alvarez and his administrative staff, as well as my wife, Kelly, I have decided that now is the right time to step down from the head coaching position here at Wisconsin,” Ryan said.

“This was a decision months in the making. I brought this up to Barry back in April. He advised me to take some time to think it over and I appreciated that. But in recent weeks, I have come to the conclusion that now is the right time for me to retire and for Greg Gard to have the opportunity to coach the team for the remainder of the season. I discussed this with Barry and I appreciate him giving me the space to make this decision.”

You may ask why Ryan has decided to make this decision now, and the answer has everything to do with Gard. Ryan would have retired six months ago, he claimed, but explained the circumstances very thoroughly below:

“In May, after our ’99 banquet that put that team into the Hall of Fame down at Platteville, Glen Gard’s [Greg Gard’s father] behavior change. You all know what happened. Everybody knows it’s no secret, and every head coach would they like their top assistant to be the head coach. There’s no way in the world in June, while Coach Gard was flying around the country to the best cancer people in the country and probably in the world, and trying to figure out how he can do something to help his dad. So, therefore, we put that on the back burner: retirement. I talked to Barry after, because we didn’t know what – how long Glen was going to be with us. As you know, he passed away. Barry and I had been talking: when’s a good time? What we came down to was: semester. This is semester. We start finals, and I wanted to give Coach Gard plenty of time to get the guys ready, and get them into the position whereas a head coach he has a chance as every former head coach for their top assistant says, ‘To take a run at the job.’ That’s the way this business is. And we accept it. Coach Gard will have that chance. But here’s what I told the players, and please don’t ever get confused. I got six months with this group because of the circumstances. That’s joy. But I knew, I know the energy level, Barry knew the energy level in football, the things, the demands of the times, the speaking, the traveling, the trying to do things to help other people. I enjoy doing it, and the thing was, I felt it was time. But I couldn’t make the decision at that time. I don’t know how many coaches ever have the opportunity to have an AD, an administration that understands and accepts that. It’s extremely hard telling the players, as you can imagine. You can’t put that into words. I had written stuff down. I can’t do that. I gotta tell you how I feel.”

“I want to thank Bo Ryan for everything he has done for our athletic department, the state of Wisconsin and certainly the Badgers basketball program,” UW Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez said. “He oversaw an incredible run of sustained success and helped elevate Wisconsin among the nation’s elite programs. He is truly a Hall of Fame coach and led our program to the most successful era in school history. He will be missed.”

Ryan gave one last endorsement for Gard as well during his retirement speech: “Greg’s ready. The staff is ready; all the way through, top flight deep. And I feel really good about that. His record as an assistant coach, I told the team, there are people that have received head coaching jobs who were assistants at places, without anywhere near the record that he has.”

Alvarez supported the decision, “I feel really good about Greg taking the job on an interim basis.” Alvarez explained that Gard will be given an opportunity to prove himself during this interim time period, and Alvarez and his administration will evaluate from there based on the team’s growth and success: “Greg is the interim coach. I’ll evaluate how he works with the team, how they improve, and where they are. And then make a decision at the end of the year, what we want to do as we move forward.”

Gard said the scene in the locker room was emotional and tough: “It was obviously hard for coach. It was hard for the players.” But, Gard said Ryan delivered a great message to the team: “I thought Coach Ryan delivered a great message that I’m not leaving you after six months. I got an extra six months with you, and let’s take this and step forward. He’ll always be a part of this program.”

Zak Showalter, who has been with Ryan for three and a half years now, told the media after the game, “It’s sad. Coach Ryan’s been a legend in Wisconsin for a long time…It’s tough, but we understand he has reasons why.”

Nigel Hayes, who’s in his third season with Ryan and has been an important part of both Final Four teams had a very Nigel Hayes thing to say: “We wish him well with his retirement and all the things old people do.”

Ryan led Wisconsin to the NCAA tournament in all 14 of his full seasons, finishing top-four in the Big Ten every year as well. He reached back-to-back Final Fours in 2013 and 2014. During the Bo Ryan Era at Wisconsin, the Badgers went 364-130 overall, winning 7 Big Ten titles. He is Wisconsin’s all-time leader in wins.