Former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan has been cleared by the university of alleged misuse of school resources while having an extramarital affair.
Deadspin first learned of the investigation, which took place in 2015, and received a statement from Wisconsin chancellor Rebecca Blank that Ryan’s resignation was “entirely his decision.” The longtime Badgers coach stepped down mid-season, in December, allowing assistant coach Greg Gard to take over the program.
Blank issued the following statement to Deadspin and the Wisconsin State Journal.
“In February, 2015, the University of Wisconsin-Madison received allegations related to the possible misuse of university resources and personal conduct of former Head Basketball Coach Bo Ryan. Prior to that Coach Ryan had disclosed to the university that he had had an improper personal relationship with a person unaffiliated with the university.
“The university’s Office of Legal Affairs and the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics performed a thorough review after receiving this information. In this case, and in all others, the university takes conduct allegations seriously, reviews them thoroughly and takes action, when appropriate. These allegations did not involve any other member of the campus community beyond Bo Ryan.
“The university determined on May 13, 2015 that Ryan did not utilize university resources during the course of the relationship in question. The university concluded the issue was a private matter. Bo Ryan’s resignation on Dec. 15, 2015 was entirely his decision.”
Documents obtained by Deadspin revealed an email among the woman, Ryan, Blank and three senior athletic department officials in February 2015. The woman said she had accompanied Ryan on recruiting trips around the country. The university’s findings revealed Ryan paid for these expenses himself.
According to the State Journal, a Wisconsin spokesman confirmed the woman is Robin Van Ert, a massage therapist from Madison. But a Wisconsin spokesperson told SI.com the school had not confirmed that. In the email, also obtained by the State Journal, the woman wrote that Ryan mentally abused her and put her on a “roller coaster.” She called Ryan a “predator,” that she nearly ended her life as a result of their relationship, and that their affair lasted nearly six years.
“I am not sending this to you for attention nor gain or for anyone to feel sorry for me,” she wrote in the email. “I take full responsibility for my actions and unfortunately I believed the things he said to me. However, I do feel and I believe most in the community would agree with me that a man who is manipulative, a liar, cheater and deceptive, should not be coaching and mentoring or be a role model to the young men on the basketball team.”
Ryan, in a statement to ESPN Saturday, acknowledged the affair and affirmed it was not linked to his retirement after more than 14 years leading the Badgers.
“My wife Kelly and I believed that the University's findings concluded this matter," Ryan said in the statement. "To be clear, this matter was absolutely unrelated to my retirement many months later. In fact, I timed my retirement intentionally to assure that Greg Gard got his hard-earned opportunity to coach the University of Wisconsin basketball team.
“I had a relationship with a woman who had no connection to the University of Wisconsin," he added. "That relationship ended nearly 1 1/2 years ago. I revealed this issue openly to the University, and encouraged them to review any activity to assure them that no University resources were misused.”
The State Journal reports the Wisconsin men’s basketball team was informed on Friday that a story about Ryan would be published in the near future, according to the athletic department. The school did not want players to be caught off guard.
Ryan, 68, led the Badgers to a 364–130 record as head coach, and to two Final Fours.