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Wisconsin-Green Bay players defend Brian Wardle after abuse allegations

Two of Brian Wardle's current players went on air to say don't believe the claims that he abused a pair of their former teammates.

Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

A pair of players on the Wisconsin-Green Bay basketball team felt that accusations by ex-players that coach Brian Wardle was abusive were false.

The accusations, in the wake of the Mike Rice scandal at Rutgers, were relatively ugly. The parents of former players Brennan Cougill and Ryan Bross had made the complaints, and Bross spoke publicly Tuesday, saying that Wardle called him names, forced him to participate in an excessive workout when he was feeling ill, and that he needed to have sex -- against his religious beliefs -- in order to become a better player.

Guard Keifer Sykes, who led the team in scoring with 15.9 points per game this past season, spoke in defense of his coach on a local radio show, per ESPN:

"It was just shocking that all this came about because everyone knows Coach has our best interests in mind, he never did anything to abuse anyone. This is crazy.

Sykes added that he was with Bross when the walk-on was put through the excessive workout, called "boot camp," and that Bross had taken the events out of context.

Forward Alex Brown accused his ex-teammates of lying:

"Honestly, I don't agree with the things that are being said," Brown told WNFL "I've been there the longest of any of the guys, and I feel like if I had personally seen any of this happening, I wouldn't still be here. A lot of this stuff is not happening the way it seems that it is.... And like, the way they can lie about some things is just amazing because of some of these guys were really close to us, teammates, like brothers."

It's worth noting one difference between the two players leveling accusations at Wardle and the two players defending him: Cougill and Bross are no longer on the team, as Cougill has graduated and Bross opted to transfer to a Division III school rather than continue his career with the Phoenix.

Meanwhile, Brown is a rising senior and Sykes is a rising junior. All parties involved could believe that they're telling the truth, but Cougill and Bross certainly have less to lose by speaking negatively of their former coach.

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