The Phelan award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top Division I men’s basketball coach, is named in honor of the legendary coach who spent his entire career at Mount Saint Mary’s University. Phelan led the Mountaineers to the 1962 NCAA Men’s Division II Basketball Championship. After coaching for 49 years, he retired in 2003 having amassed 830 career wins.
The Jim Phelan award committee is a 30-member panel, consisting of five current Division I head coaches, five retired head coaches, 10 current athletic directors and/or conference administrators, five members of the national media and five CollegeInsider.com staff members.
Gard took over as interim head coach at Wisconsin following the Dec. 15 retirement of long-time head coach Bo Ryan. In approximately three months, Gard turned the Badgers around in remarkable fashion and guided the group to a 12-6 record in the Big Ten and a fourth-place finish in the conference.
Finishing with a mark of 22-13, including 15-8 under Gard, UW earned its 18th-straight berth in the NCAA tournament. Gard became the first coach in NCAA history to lead his team to the Sweet 16 in his inaugural season as head coach since Xavier’s Chris Mack in 2010.
Gard, who was named full-time head coach at Wisconsin on March 7, joins a list of past recipients that includes former Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan in 2008. Other recent winners were Bob Huggins of West Virginia (2015), Tim Miles of Nebraska (2014), Dana Altman of Oregon (2013) and Mike Brey of Notre Dame (2012).