Jim Leonhard will remain on staff with the Badgers in 2023 under new head coach Luke Fickell, according to Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Leonhard was named interim head coach in October following the firing of former head coach Paul Chryst, but he ultimately lost the job to Fickell. The two met on Wednesday, and Leonhard said he planned on announcing his future plans to the team on Saturday.
While no specificities on Leonhard’s role are currently known, he will likely return to the defensive coordinator position he has held since 2017. There is a possibility he will serve as co-coordinator with Mike Tressel, the Cincinnati defensive coordinator/linebackers coach who followed Fickell to Wisconsin.
During Leonhard’s two month stint as interim, many players publicly lobbied for him to be named the permanent head coach. Leonhard losing the job despite his popularity created uncertainty about how the roster and incoming recruits would react. In early November, star running back Braelon Allen responded to transfer rumors by clarifying, “As long as Coach Leonhard is here, that’s where I’ll be.”
"Jim’s ability to step into a program after an incredibly difficult transition and inspire this team to play with passion and with heart the way they did throughout the season was incredible,” said Athletic Director Chris McIntosh of Leonhard at Fickell's introductory press conference.
"We owe coach Leonhard a debt of gratitude,” he added. "Jimmy’s standing within our program has grown beyond our imagination.”
Donnie Slusher is the sports editor for the Daily Cardinal. He has written multiple breaking news stories, sports columns and an in-depth examination of race in Wisconsin football. Follow Donnie on Twitter at @DonnieSlusher_