The Wisconsin State Journal found itself with quite a story in Tuesday's digital and print editions, reporting that an anonymous emailer sent the paper a 37-minute audio file from a secretly recorded meeting between Badgers men's basketball seniors and coaches in February in which players aired grievances about the season and particularly head coach Greg Gard.
"I just feel like, coach, we don't have a relationship," the paper quoted Nate Reuvers, a four-year starter and former Lakeville North standout, as saying during a meeting that by some accounts lasted close to two hours. "In my mind, it's too late for that. I personally don't think or feel like you care about our future aspirations. I can't talk to you. I just don't want to talk to you. After this, coach, I don't know what type of relationship we're going to have, if we have one."
Brad Davison, another senior and a Maple Grove native, reportedly said to Gard during the meeting: "We desire a relationship with you where you know who we are, that you care for us, that you value us more than just on the basketball court. We want that and feel like we've lacked that in certain areas."
Several other players echoed similar sentiments. All seven seniors had the chance to come back this season with an extra year of eligibility, but only Davison is expected to return, the paper reported.
Davison also told the State Journal that he was dismayed that the audio recording became public during an interview Monday.
"I think a locker room is a sanctuary," Davison said. "And every locker room that you are in, you are with individuals that you've cried with, that you've bled with, that you've sweat with and that you've worked with. When you have tough conversations, the reason why you have tough conversations in the locker room is because you care for the people in the locker room and because you love them and want what's best for them and ultimately you want to grow with them."
Gard on Monday said he found it "disturbing" that the audio recording of the Feb. 19 meeting was secretly recorded and made public.
Former Badger Sam Dekker joined the fray on Twitter on Tuesday. In a tweet that he later deleted, Dekker wrote, "Who the hell gave these guys the idea that they're bigger than the program? Never been angrier reading an article. And recording a meeting is the softest thing I've ever seen. Grow up. Coaches coach. Gard isn't the one on a 8 min scoring drought every game. Get outta here."
Dekker softened his stance with a later tweet.
The Badgers started the season ranked No. 7 in the country, but losses during the COVID-impacted season mounted. They still reached the NCAA tournament but lost in the second round.
What remains to be seen is how the fallout from all this impacts Gard, the current roster and future recruiting.