Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst has been fired, sources told ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg. Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard will take over as interim head coach.
This came a day after a frustrating, 34-10 loss to conference rival Illinois Fighting Illini, and ex-Badger coach Bret Bielema. The Badgers’ 2022 season has undoubtedly been a disappointment, as Wisconsin started 2-3.
In the official statement regarding the decision, athletic director Chris McIntosh thanked Chryst for his time with the university.
“Paul is a man of integrity who loves his players," McIntosh said. "I have great respect and admiration for Paul and the legacy of him and his family at the University of Wisconsin.”
Despite reports that a buyout of Chryst’s contract could cost upwards of $16 to $19.5 million, McIntosh clarified to reporters that “the number we agreed to is significantly less than the numbers that have been reported.”
McIntosh expressed full support for the interim coach.
“I'm confident that there's nobody that can do it better at this moment and time,” he emphasized.
However, on the subject of finding a permanent coach, McIntosh mentioned, “I owe it to this program to do a full search when the time is right. That topic is not today's priority.”
Leonhard also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to truly lead the team he’s coached for years.
“I feel like I can take this opportunity and help this place grow," said Leonhard. "That’s why I came back a number of years ago. It’s why I haven’t left.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2, to add information from the UW Athletics press conference regarding Wisconsin's staffing change.