Bo Ryan

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Bo Ryan
Bo Ryan protests to referees cropped.jpg
Ryan in January 2012
Sport(s) Basketball
Biographical details
Born (1947-12-20) December 20, 1947 (age 69)
Chester, Pennsylvania
Playing career
1965–1969 Wilkes
Position(s) Point guard
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1972–1973 Brookhaven JHS
1974–1976 Sun Valley HS
1976–1984 Wisconsin (assistant)
1984–1999 Wisconsin–Platteville
1999–2001 Wisconsin-Milwaukee
2001–2015 Wisconsin
Head coaching record
Overall 747–233 (.762)
Accomplishments and honors
NCAA Division III National Championships (1991, 1995, 1998, 1999)
NCAA Regional championship – Final Four (2014, 2015)
Big Ten Tournament championships (2004, 2008, 2015)
Big Ten regular season championships (2002, 2003, 2008, 2015)
Clair Bee Coach of the Year (2007)
4× Big Ten Coach of the Year (2002, 2003, 2013, 2015)
Jim Phelan Award (2008)
College Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2017

William Francis "Bo" Ryan, Jr. (born December 20, 1947) is an American former college basketball coach and player. He was the head coach of the University of Wisconsin–Madison Badgers men's basketball team from 2001 to December 2015. Ryan served as the head men's basketball coach at the University of Wisconsin–Platteville from 1984 to 1999 and at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee from 1999 to 2001. On December 15, 2015, Ryan announced his retirement, effective immediately.

Playing career[edit]

Ryan began playing basketball at a very young age. His father, Butch Ryan was already a legend in the area, coaching youth sports including basketball to under-privileged children in Chester, Pennsylvania. Butch taught him the skills to be a successful point guard, generally the position of the on-court team leader. He became a star basketball player, leading his high school team to a 25–1 record in his senior year. In addition to basketball, Ryan was a high school quarterback. The center snapping him the ball was Ted Cottrell, who later served as a defensive coach and coordinator for a number of teams in the NFL. Ryan lettered in football, basketball and baseball, and was president of his class. After high school, Ryan starred as a point guard at Wilkes College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. His love for the game drove him to remain involved with the sport, choosing to delve into the coaching profession.[1]

Coaching career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Ryan's coaching career began in 1972 at Brookhaven Junior High School in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, where for one year he worked as a history teacher and basketball head coach.[1] After graduating from Wilkes University, Ryan began graduate work at Villanova University in Villanova, Pennsylvania. In 1973, Ryan began his collegiate coaching career at Dominican College of Racine (not to be confused with the earlier Racine College) in Racine, Wisconsin. He won a Coach of the Year award as head baseball coach at Dominican.[2] In 1974, Dominican College closed down. Ryan then became head coach at Sun Valley High School in Aston, Pennsylvania in 1974, where he was named conference coach of the year in 1976.[1] His success at Dominic College and Sun Valley led to a job as assistant head coach at the University of Wisconsin–Madison under head coaches Bill Cofield and Steve Yoder from 1976 to 1984.[1]


After his stint as an assistant, Ryan accepted the head coaching position at the University of Wisconsin–Platteville. From 1984 until 1999, Ryan's Platteville team posted a 352–76 overall record, an .820 winning percentage. Ryan guided the UW–Platteville Pioneers to four national championships (1991, 1995, 1998 and 1999). He also won eight Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships and set a Division III scoring defense record in 1997, with his team only allowing 47.5 points per game.[1]

During Ryan's tenure, UW-Platteville was the winningest NCAA men's basketball team of the 1990s (all divisions) with a 266-26 (.908) record.[1]

On January 27, 2007, UW-Platteville officially honored Ryan's 15-year tenure by naming the playing surface at Williams Fieldhouse "Bo Ryan Court". Ryan, along with the 2007 Wisconsin Badgers team, attended the event.


On the strength of his success at Platteville, Ryan was hired as head coach at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee for the 1999–2000 season. In his two seasons as coach, the team had its first back-to-back winning seasons in nearly a decade.[3] Ryan also brought a 161 percent increase in home attendance at UWM, giving the program a new energy that continued into the tenure of his successor Bruce Pearl.[1]


Following the Badgers' 2000 Final Four run, head coach Dick Bennett retired two games into the 2000–01 season. Assistant coach Brad Soderberg finished the season as interim head coach, but was not considered for the full-time job. The coaching search began to concentrate on Rick Majerus of the University of Utah (who was a Milwaukee native) and Bo Ryan. After Majerus pulled his name out of consideration, UW athletic director Pat Richter made the decision to hire Ryan as Wisconsin's 13th head coach.

Ryan's first season was much more successful than anticipated. The team was predicted to finish as low as ninth in the Big Ten in pre-season polls. The team, led by Kirk Penney, surprisingly finished in a four-way tie for the Big Ten regular-season title and received an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. In the 2002–03 season, the Badgers won their first outright Big Ten regular season title in 56 years and advanced to the "Sweet Sixteen" in the NCAA Tournament. The Badgers won the Big Ten Tournament Championship in 2004, led by Devin Harris, and once again received an NCAA Tournament invitation. In the 2004–05 season, Wisconsin advanced to the "Elite Eight" in the NCAA Tournament, losing to the eventual national champion North Carolina Tar Heels.[4] On December 10, 2005, Ryan recorded his 100th victory as Wisconsin head coach by defeating in-state rival Marquette.[5]

In the 2006–07 season, Ryan led the Badgers to the pinnacle of college basketball, helping them achieve their first top-five ranking and #1 ranking in the AP poll in the school's history. However, the Badgers' time atop the poll was short-lived as they lost their next game, against Michigan State before losing to Ohio State in a #1 vs. #2 matchup.[6][7] The Wisconsin–Ohio State game on February 25, 2007, featured two teams ranked #1 in that week's national polls, with Ohio State securing the top ranking in the Coaches' Poll and clinching the regular season Big Ten title.[8] The following week they rebounded with a 52–50 win at home over Michigan State and again defeated Michigan State in the Big Ten tournament, before losing the Big Ten Tournament championship game to Ohio State. In 2007, Ryan was named the winner of the Clair Bee Coach of the Year Award. A year later, the Badgers notched their most wins ever in Big Ten play (16) en route to a school-record 31 wins.[1]

On December 12, 2009, Ryan recorded his 200th victory as Wisconsin head coach by defeating in-state rival Marquette, 72–63 at the Kohl Center.[9]

On January 24, 2010, Ryan recorded his 100th Big Ten Conference victory by defeating Penn State, 79–71 at the Kohl Center.[10] With that victory, Ryan became the 2nd fastest coach to reach that milestone, tying Ryan with Branch McCracken who both needed 140 games to reach the 100th conference victory.[10] The only coach to reach the 100th conference win faster was Bob Knight, who only needed 131 games.[10]

On March 9, 2012, in the 2012 Big Ten Conference Men's Basketball Tournament quarterfinals the Badgers defeated the Hoosiers, giving Ryan his 266th win at Wisconsin and vaulting him past Bud Foster to become the winningest coach in school history.[11]

On December 4, 2013, Ryan won his 300th game at Wisconsin during a 48–38 victory over Virginia becoming only the ninth Big Ten head coach to win 300 games.[12]

On March 14, 2014, Ryan got his 700th victory during a 83–57 win over Minnesota in the 2014 Big Ten Tournament. On March 29, 2014, during the 2014 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament, Ryan reached his first Division I Final Four with a 64–63 overtime win over Arizona.[13]

On January 8, 2015, the Badgers defeated Purdue 62–55 giving Ryan his 159th Big Ten victory, passing Walter Meanwell for most Big Ten conference victories in UW history.[14]

On February 14, 2015, Ryan was named a finalist to be considered for election in the Class of 2015 for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.[15]

Ryan has written three books: Bo Ryan: Another Hill to Climb, The Swing Offense, and Passing and Catching: the Lost Art. He led the Badgers to the NCAA Tournament in each of his 14 full seasons at Wisconsin; the team had only been to a total of seven NCAA Tournaments before Ryan's arrival (three of them under Bennett). He also owns all four of Wisconsin's 30-win seasons.

He coached the Badgers to the NCAA Final Four two years in a row, falling to Kentucky, 74-73, in the 2014 semifinals in Arlington, Texas, and to Duke, 68-63, in the championship game on April 6, 2015 in Indianapolis.

On June 29, 2015, Ryan announced that he would retire after the 2015-16 season, naming associate head coach Greg Gard as his preferred successor.[16] A month and a half later, Ryan announced he was "not totally sure" whether or not he would retire.[17] On December 15, 2015, Ryan announced his retirement after a win against Texas A&M–Corpus Christi, effective immediately, and Gard took over for the rest of the season.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Ryan and his wife, Kelly, have five children: Megan, Will, Matt, Brenna and Mairin. Ryan also has six grandchildren: Aoife, Imogen, Maeve, Owen, Liam and Callen.

Shortly after the Badgers' loss in the 2015 NCAA title game, Ryan briefly caused concern among Wisconsin fans that he would retire when he and his wife put their home in Madison up for sale. At a charity fundraiser, he explained that they had chosen to downsize now that their children were all adults and out of the house, and had bought a condo near the Badgers' home of the Kohl Center. The house was ultimately purchased by new Wisconsin football head coach Paul Chryst.[19]

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Wisconsin–Platteville Pioneers (Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) (1984–1999)
1984–85 Wisconsin–Platteville 9–17 4–12 7th
1985–86 Wisconsin–Platteville 16–11 8–8 5th NAIA First Round
1986–87 Wisconsin–Platteville 14–11 6–10 T–5th
1987–88 Wisconsin–Platteville 24–5 14–2 1st NAIA Third Round
1988–89 Wisconsin–Platteville 24–5 13–3 3rd NAIA Third Round
1989–90 Wisconsin–Platteville 26–3 15–1 1st NAIA Third Round
1990–91 Wisconsin–Platteville 28–3 13–3 2nd NCAA D–III Champions
1991–92 Wisconsin–Platteville 27–4 13–3 2nd NCAA D–III Third Place
1992–93 Wisconsin–Platteville 24–4 13–3 T–1st NCAA D–III Elite Eight
1993–94 Wisconsin–Platteville 23–5 13–3 2nd NCAA D–III Sweet Sixteen
1994–95 Wisconsin–Platteville 31–0 16–0 1st NCAA D–III Champions
1995–96 Wisconsin–Platteville 23–3 15–1 1st NCAA D–III First Round
1996–97 Wisconsin–Platteville 24–3 14–2 1st NCAA D–III Second Round
1997–98 Wisconsin–Platteville 30–0 16–0 1st NCAA D–III Champions
1998–99 Wisconsin–Platteville 30–2 15–1 1st NCAA D–III Champions
Wisconsin–Platteville: 353–76 (.823) 188–52 (.783)
Milwaukee Panthers (Horizon League) (1999–2001)
1999–00 Milwaukee 15–14 6–8 T–4th
2000–01 Milwaukee 15–13 7–7 5th
Milwaukee: 30–27 (.526) 13–15 (.464)
Wisconsin Badgers (Big Ten Conference) (2001–2015)
2001–02 Wisconsin 19–13 11–5 T–1st NCAA Round of 32
2002–03 Wisconsin 24–8 12–4 1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2003–04 Wisconsin 25–7 12–4 T–2nd NCAA Round of 32
2004–05 Wisconsin 25–9 11–5 3rd NCAA Elite Eight
2005–06 Wisconsin 19–12 9–7 T–4th NCAA Round of 64
2006–07 Wisconsin 30–6 13–3 2nd NCAA Round of 32
2007–08 Wisconsin 31–5 16–2 1st NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2008–09 Wisconsin 20–13 10–8 T–4th NCAA Round of 32
2009–10 Wisconsin 24–9 13–5 4th NCAA Round of 32
2010–11 Wisconsin 25–9 13–5 3rd NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2011–12 Wisconsin 26–10 12–6 4th NCAA Sweet Sixteen
2012–13 Wisconsin 23–12 12–6 T–4th NCAA Round of 64
2013–14 Wisconsin 30–8 12–6 T–2nd NCAA Final Four
2014–15 Wisconsin 36–4 16–2 1st NCAA Runner-up
2015–16 Wisconsin 7–5
Wisconsin: 364–130 (.737) 172–68 (.717)
Total: 747–233 (.762)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

Coaching tree[edit]

A number of Ryan's assistants have become head coaches elsewhere.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Bo Ryan Bio". - The Official Athletic Site of the Wisconsin Badgers. 
  2. ^ "Bo Ryan Bio - - The Official Athletic Site of the Wisconsin Badgers". 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-06-25. Retrieved 2006-07-15. 
  4. ^ "Wisconsin Badgers vs North Carolina Tar Heels - Recap". 
  5. ^ "Marquette Golden Eagles vs Wisconsin Badgers - Recap". 
  6. ^ Wisconsin Badgers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes - Recap - February 25, 2007 - ESPN
  7. ^ "2006-07 Big Ten Conference Conference Standings". Big Ten Conference. 
  8. ^ "Ohio State Earns Big Ten Men's Basketball Championship Big Ten Conference Official Site". Big Ten Conference. 
  9. ^ "Marquette Golden Eagles vs Wisconsin Badgers - Recap". 
  10. ^ a b c "Penn State Nittany Lions vs Wisconsin Badgers - Recap". 
  11. ^ "Indiana Hoosiers vs Wisconsin Badgers - Recap". 
  12. ^ "Wisconsin wins defensive battle". Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  13. ^ "Wisconsin does what works to get to Final Four". Retrieved 30 March 2014. 
  14. ^ "Kaminsky scores 21 as No. 4 Wisconsin beats Purdue 62-55". Retrieved 8 January 2015. 
  15. ^ "Wisconsin head coach one of 12 individuals on the ballot for the Class of 2015".  On December 15, 2015, Ryan announced his retirement as head coach of the Badgers.
  16. ^ Bo Ryan Lobbies Hard for Greg Gard, accessed August 13, 2015
  17. ^ Bo Ryan Not Totally Sure He Will Retire, accessed August 13, 2016
  18. ^ [1], accessed December 15, 2015
  19. ^ Katz, Andy (May 3, 2015). "Bo Ryan: Duke loss still 'stings'". Retrieved May 3, 2015.