Brian Wardle accused of abuse

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A second complaint has been lodged against Wisconsin-Green Bay men's basketball coach Brian Wardle, this one alleging verbal abuse and bullying.

Gina Cougill, the mother of senior forward Brennan Cougill, wrote to university chancellor Thomas Harden last week, shortly after the parents of former center Ryan Bross filed the initial complaint against Wardle.

Gina Cougill provided a copy of her letter to the Green Bay Press-Gazette, accusing Wardle of mistreating his players.

"These young men were entrusted to the UWGB coaching staff to mold and shape them into adulthood," she wrote. "That statement itself makes me quiver because, from my perspective, the only shaping has been verbal abuse and bullying toward most of the players."

Cougill accused Wardle of minimizing her son's clinical depression as a "distraction," and said other players have been subjected to worse treatment. The university has hired a lawyer to conduct an independent investigation. Wardle released a statement through the school following the first complaint saying he would support the process and wouldn't comment further.

Details of the Bross complaint have not been released by the family or school.

Bross is one of four players to leave the program since mid-February. Guard Kam Cerroni left in February, saying he had "differences" with Wardle. Freshman Nick Arenz left after the season, and junior guard Sultan Muhammad recently received his release.

Brennan Cougill, who was the team's third-leading scorer at 9 points per game last season, was suspended for four games for violating a team rule for an academic infraction. When he was reinstated, Gina Cougill said, Wardle gave him a list of 20 ways in which her son had been a distraction for the team.

The distractions included a breakdown that her son apparently experienced on the bench during the second half of a loss to UW-Milwaukee last year, and a post that Gina Cougill made on the basketball team's Facebook page alleging too much one-on-one play in games. Even though she wrote the post, she said, her son was blamed.

"So instead of talking to me, [Wardle] pulled my son in and writes that in our little 20 distractions, and he said most kids get to six and are released from the team," she said.

The investigation is being led by private attorney Joseph Nicks, who told The Associated Press on Monday he planned to start quickly and conduct a fair analysis. He said he couldn't speculate on when the investigation would be complete.

The complaints come amid heightened scrutiny of coach behavior. Basketball coach Mike Rice was fired by Rutgers after a video was released that showed him kicking and grabbing players while uttering anti-gay slurs at them in practice over the past 2½ seasons.