After 13 seasons on the bench, Gary Close is resigning to pursue other opportunities

Gary Close is resigning after 13 seasons on Wisconsin's bench, leaving Greg Gard his first hiring opportunity as permanent head coach.

MADISON – University of Wisconsin men’s basketball assistant coach Gary Close has resigned and is leaving the program after 13 seasons. The news was first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and a statement released Wednesday morning said Close wanted "to pursue other professional opportunities." 

"It was an honor and a privilege to have coached at the University of Wisconsin," Close said in a statement.“Being an assistant coach at the Division I level is an increasingly demanding position. While I plan to keep basketball a part of my future plans, I do want my next professional stop to provide me with greater flexibility to spend more quality time with my wife and two growing children."

Close and his wife, Kellie, have a son, Sam (15), and daughter, Ellen (10).

An assistant at Stanford (1983-'86) and Iowa (1986-'99) and the head coach at Regina High, School in Iowa (2000-'03) before joining the UW staff in the spring of 2003, Close filled the vacant spot left by Tony Bennett, who joined his father’s staff at Washington State. Wisconsin won 25 games eight times, 30 games four times and four Big Ten championships during his tenure.

“Whatever we choose as our next chapter, it will be difficult to match the experiences we’ve had over the past 13 years," Close said, thanking former head coach Bo Ryan, coaches, staffers, players and fans in his statement. "As our life takes a different course, we are looking forward to closely following Wisconsin athletics, especially the men’s basketball team. They are a terrific group of young men with a very bright future. It should be an exciting 2016-17 season, one I know will receive the usual incredible support from the countless, devoted Badger fans across this great state and country."

The decision leaves head coach Greg Gard his first staffing decision since being officially hired March 7. Assistant coaches Howard Moore and Lamont Paris have expressed interest in returning, so the direction Gard will turn will be the early story line of the offseason.

Should Gard go with a familiar face, he’ll have a handful of possibility. Rob Jeter was an assistant at UW from 2001-'05 before his first head coaching opportunity at Milwaukee. He was recently fired after 11 seasons with the Panthers, going 184-170 with two N.C.A.A. tournament appearances. Gard also worked with Jeter at Platteville and Milwaukee.

South Dakota State assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft was recruited by Gard and played for the Badgers from 2005-09. He served as the Badgers video coordinator during the 2012-13 before being hired for his current role. The Jackrabbits went 26-8 this past season and won the Summit League tournament to earn an automatic berth into the N.C.A.A. tournament.

Holy Cross assistant coach Freddie Owens has nine years of college coaching experience and has been a part of eight N.C.A.A. tournament teams as either a player or a coach, four of which came at Wisconsin from 2001-04.

Milwaukee assistant coach Sharif Chambliss has been an assistant coach for the last five seasons and worked the 2011-12 season as Wisconsin’s video coordinator. He played one season at Wisconsin after transferring from Penn State, leading the Badgers to the 2005 Elite Eight.

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