Bradley filled its head coaching vacancy Friday by hiring Green Bay coach Brian Wardle, the school announced. Wardle replaces Geno Ford, who was fired March 23.
In five seasons at Green Bay, Wardle posted a 95-64 record, including a 54-20 record in the Horizon League. The Phoenix finished in the conference’s top three each of the last three years, including a regular season title in 2013-14.
This past season, Green Bay went 24-9 and made the NIT for the second straight year.
“After an intensive and strategic search, it thrills me to announce the hiring of Coach Brian Wardle,” said athletics director Chris Reynolds, who was hired earlier this month. “He has a track record of success as a student-athlete, assistant coach and head coach and both his work ethic and personality are a great fit for Bradley University and the Greater Peoria community.”
Although Wardle has never made the NCAA Tournament, he is a proven winner as a head coach. He also has great recruiting ties in the Chicago area, which is crucial for turning this struggling Bradley program.
Wardle’s marquee player at Green Bay, Keifer Sykes, is a Chicago native and Marshall graduate. The Phoenix’s 2014-15 roster had five Chicago players.
Bradley finished last in the Missouri Valley Conference last season with a 3-15 record, and only nine wins total. The Braves lose just one senior and have one of the league’s top freshmen in forward Josh Cunningham, a former top-100 recruit out of high school.
Keeping Cunningham and some of Bradley’s other talent in the program will be crucial for the Braves next season.
“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.”
CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein reported the news first Friday evening.