OFFICIAL: Will Ryan named Head Basketball Coach at Green Bay

Photo Courtesy Green Bay Athletics

Green Bay Director of Athletics Charles Guthrie has named Will Ryan the eighth head men’s basketball coach in Phoenix program history. Ryan and the University have reached an agreement in principle, with the details of the final contract still being worked out.

“What a great day for UW-Green Bay and Green Bay men’s basketball,” said Guthrie. “Hiring leaders is about getting the right fit at the right time and I have no doubt that Coach Ryan is exactly the right person to lead our program today and into the future. Will’s overall body of work as a collegiate coach has been remarkable and I believe that experience will serve us tremendously well as he embarks on his tenure at GB. We look forward to having Will, Emily, Owen, Liam and Callen join our family and the Green Bay community.”

Ryan, who is the oldest son of well-known College Basketball Hall of Famer and former University of Wisconsin Head Coach Bo Ryan, arrives in Titletown after one highly successful season at Wheeling University in West Virginia. In just his first season as the leader of the Cardinals, he took a team picked last in their conference to a fifth-place finish, all after taking over the program in July and with only five players on the current roster at that time.

“We are thrilled to have Will Ryan be the next coach to lead our men’s basketball program. His passion for the game and our community is evident,” said UW-Green Bay Chancellor Michael Alexander. “We clearly have the right coach at the right time for UW-Green Bay and I am excited to see what he accomplishes here.”

“I am beyond excited to be the next head coach of the Green Bay Phoenix men’s basketball program. It’s an honor and a privilege to come back to my home state of Wisconsin and join a great University,” said Ryan. I look forward to building a program with a group of hard-working student-athletes who are proud to represent Green Bay.”

Ryan, a Platteville-native who won two national championships as a player for the Pioneers while his father was head coach, has over 15 combined years as a Division I assistant. Prior to his year at Wheeling, Ryan was the head assistant coach at Ohio University and an assistant coach at North Dakota State University. While with the Bobcats, Ryan helped coach 14 All-Conference players and a pair of second-place finishes. His tenure with the Bison was even better, where he helped lead NDSU to two NCAA Tournaments and a memorable upset win over No. 5 seed Oklahoma in the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

In his seven seasons in Fargo, Ryan helped the team advance to four postseason tournaments, tutor two Summit League Player of the Years and a program-record 26 wins in 2013-14. Ryan coached under Saul Phillips while at NDSU and Ohio, the current head coach at Northern State University in South Dakota.

Ryan spent five seasons with the Badgers as a Video Coordinator and as the Director of Basketball Operations, joining the program in 2002-03 as a volunteer assistant. He also served as head coach for the Wisconsin Swing AAU team in 2005.

Ryan graduated from UW-Milwaukee in December 2002 with a Bachelor’s degree in educational studies and youth leadership. He played for Bruce Pearl, the current head coach at Auburn University, during his senior season.
Will and his wife, Emily, have three sons, Owen, Liam and Callen.

“I want to thank Chancellor Michael Alexander and Athletic Director Charles Guthrie for this amazing opportunity. Their passion for the University is infectious. I’m excited to join the proud Phoenix family,” said Ryan.

Ryan’s first official game as head coach of the Phoenix will come on Nov. 10 at Oklahoma State, with his first home game coming on Saturday, Nov. 14 against Montana State. 

Details on an official introduction, press conference and community welcome will be announced in the coming days with plans for those events taking place this week.

Bo Ryan, Father and Hall of Fame member, former Wisconsin HC:
“Kelly and I are proud of Will and his accomplishments in coaching and teaching. We wish Will and the team all the best as they embark on this new and exciting chapter.”

Greg Gard, HC at Wisconsin:
“Will Ryan is a coaching natural. I’ve literally watched him grow up over the last 30 years from being a ball boy at UW-Platteville games, to coaching him as a player at Platteville High School and with the Pioneers, to the start of his coaching career with us at Wisconsin. You could tell early he was so at ease on the floor as a player and in his initial coaching roles. He saw, thought, and understood the game in a way that was way beyond his years. His knowledge of the game is exceptional, and combined with his level-headed demeanor and ability to communicate with today’s student-athlete, he’s a great fit for UW-Green Bay. I’m really happy for Will, Emily, and their three boys to return to their Wisconsin roots and be closer to their friends and family.”

Gene Taylor, AD at Kansas State, former AD at NDSU:
“Congratulations to Will and I’m very happy for Will, Emily and their family. He has worked extremely hard to get this opportunity and it is well deserved. Will is a tremendous person that will treat his athletes very well and will be successful.”

Saul Phillips, former HC at Ohio and North Dakota State, current HC at Northern State:
“Will has a great basketball mind. He is incredible at identifying and developing talent. He’ll be a great fit in the community.”

Rob Jeter, current HC at Western Illinois, former AC under Bo Ryan at Wisconsin and Milwaukee:
“Coach Ryan and his family have had such a positive impact on my life and so many others. Will now has an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather Butch and his father Bo leading and developing young men. Coaching is in his blood and his future is bright! What a blessing to have that opportunity in Wisconsin!!!”

2019-20: Head Coach, Wheeling University
2014-19: Head Assistant Coach, Ohio University
2007-14: Assistant Coach, North Dakota State University
2002-07: Director of Basketball Operations and Video Coordinator, University of Wisconsin

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