According to a story by Jim Polzin in the print edition of today's Wisconsin State Journal, Wisconsin men's basketball strength & conditioning coach Scott Hettenbach will not return next season. While the university has not indicated why his contract was not renewed, the move is certainly a surprise around these parts.
For the last 18 years, Hettenbach oversaw the physical conditioning of the basketball team during the most successful stretch in program history. In 2007, the UW-La Crosse alum was promoted to Assistant Director of Strength and Conditioning, overseeing the performance training regimens for 22 different sports on campus.
Hettenbach also led training programs for the swimming, diving and golf programs on campus. And maybe the sum of those responsibilities has more to do with his departure than anything related to the basketball program.
Perhaps it is not coincidental, however, that Wisconsin is seeking a new direction following its most recent early NCAA tournament exit in which the fifth-seeded Badgers were beaten by 12th-seeded Mississippi and its powerful front line.
Although numerous airballed free throws kept them from scoring more, brawny Murphy Holloway (6-7, 240 lb) and Reginald Buckner (6-9, 235 lb) effectively controlled the paint for the Rebels in a 57-46 upset. The two seniors combined for 19 points, 21 rebounds and five blocks, while holding UW's three senior forwards well below their season averages. Holloway, it turns out, actually auditioned for NFL scouts recently as a tight end prospect.
That loss cannot be pinned entirely on the strength program, of course, but every aspect of the program is scrutinized after a disappointing season finale. Still, Hettenbach -- or any S&C coach for that matter -- doesn't fit the description of a fall guy.
Badger greats of past and present have always been quick to thank "Scotty" for his work with them. Hettenbach seemed genuinely loved by the players. Players were routinely breaking workout records under his watch. Hettenbach installed innovative methods for the Badgers, such as annual ultimate frisbee games to "basically fool them into a great conditioning session."
Now, just like a UW football team without S&C coach Ben Herbert, the basketball team won't look quite the same next fall without Hettenbach on the sidelines.
If you wanted to apply for Hettenbach's old post, applications were due yesterday. Sorry.
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As long as we're talking about coaching, the Wisconsin State Journal also offered up a UW System salary database, from which I can remind you how much the university is paying the basketball coaches.
2011-12 Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Salaries
|RYAN JR, WILLIAM F||COACH||$400,000|
|GARD, GREGORY GLEN||ASST COACH||$171,199|
|CLOSE, RALPH E||ASST COACH||$139,281|
|PARIS, LAMONT||ASST COACH||$105,000|
Wait a sec -- Gary Close's real first name is Ralph? Fantastic. I would switch back personally. Should I start calling Greg Gard "G-Cubed"?
Together, Bo Ryan and his three assistants earned $815,480 in salary funded by program revenue last season, with Ryan leading the way with a cool $400k. (The State Journal previously reported in 2011 that Ryan took home a base salary of $436,364. It is unclear where the difference came from.) Luckily men's basketball operates in the black in Madison.
Ryan's program-funded salary is only a piece of the head coach's full compensation. After receiving a raise two season ago, Ryan's total compensation package was valued at over $2.1 million thanks to private gift funds from the UW Foundation, which cover aspects like media tie-ins, bonuses, etc.