Bo Ryan's sudden retirement in December came, according to the legendary Wisconsin head coach, so associate head coach Greg Gard would have an opportunity to prove he should be Ryan's successor.
Gard made the most of that opportunity.
Gard, a Wisconsin native, was named the Badgers' permanent head coach on Monday.
"It's an honor and a privilege to be named the head coach at the University of Wisconsin," Gard said in the announcement. "I'm extremely thankful to (athletics director Barry) Alvarez, the Athletic Board and the Board of Regents for this incredible opportunity to lead my home-state program into the future. It's a role and a responsibility that I cherish and take extremely seriously. It's been a long journey over the last quarter-century or so, but for me to be able to spend my entire career in this state and be surrounded by such incredible support has been vital to my success. I am so grateful to everyone who has played an integral part in my development.
"I am thankful to Coach Ryan for the opportunity he gave me to be a college coach over 25 years ago. He has been a positive mentor in the professional development of my career and showed great confidence in my abilities and potential as I grew as a young coach.
"I'm looking forward to building on the great tradition at Wisconsin and representing my home state in a manner that can make Badgers fans proud."
Gard, who worked as a Wisconsin assistant since 2001, has been extremely impressive since taking the reins from Ryan before the start of the new calendar year. After a disappointing non-conference schedule that saw the Badgers drop home games to the likes of Western Illinois, Marquette and UW-Milwaukee as well as a 1-4 start to conference play, Wisconsin rallied for a terrific finish to the regular season, winning 11 of its final 13 games, tying for fourth place in the conference standings and earning the No. 6 seed in the Big Ten Tournament with a 12-6 conference record.
Gard led the Badgers on a seven-game winning streak that featured wins over Michigan State, Indiana and Maryland. Wisconsin's first Big Ten Tournament game -- Gard's first game as the permanent head coach -- comes Thursday.
"As I said many times throughout the past weeks, I've been very impressed with the job Greg has done with this team," Alvarez said in the announcement. "Not just from a wins and losses perspective but also in terms of player development and making necessary adjustments. It became clear to me as the season wore on and I was able to observe Greg both on and off the court that he was the right person to lead our men's basketball team. I was extremely excited to be able to offer him the job and fully believe that the program is in good hands for years to come."