EXCLUSIVE: UWSP men's basketball coach speaks out for first time - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

EXCLUSIVE: UWSP men's basketball coach speaks out for first time since suspension

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STEVENS POINT (WAOW) -

Bob Semling may have been suspended for the final 13 games of the UW-Stevens Point men's basketball season, but the long time Pointers coach still couldn't separate himself from his team.

"I was able to listen to games on the radio and found out just how good Scott Kreuger is," Semling said of the longtime radio voice of the Pointers on WPCN-FM.

Semling, who said he had never missed a practice or a game in his 30 years as a head and assistant coach, was suspended by UWSP as a part of a self-imposed penalty for violating four "major" NCAA rules.

"When all of a sudden you find yourself in that situation, it's very awkward and very challenging and very difficult," he said in an exclusive interview with Newsline 9's Alexis Geffin Thursday. "So you have to accept it and you have to find a way to overcome that adversity."

He dealt with it by diving even deeper into basketball. Semling said he spent much of his free time delving into Division III box scores and also kept a close eye on high school basketball so he could be prepared for the recruiting season once he returned.

While the longtime coach was gone, the Pointers excelled under interim coach Kent Dernbach, going 8-5 to close out their WIAC season after a 6-5 start to the 2016-'17 season. Watching from afar, Semling told Newsline 9 he was impressed with how his players handled the adversity of having their coach taken away.

"A lot of teams would have had division and separation," he said. "Our guys used it as an opportunity to really really and come together.

"It was very emotional for [the players] and for me," he added. "Those guys did a phenomenal job of having my back in my absence and really making our fans proud of how they performed."

Semling said he returned to the team in the days following their final game, a win over UW-La Crosse on February 18. He spent time with his players in study sessions and looks forward to returning to practice at October 15, pending any more discipline from the NCAA.

The investigation is still ongoing and Semling said he hopes the NCAA will conclude the search within the next few weeks.

"We're looking forward to getting it behind us and I'm looking forward to turning the page on this chapter," he said. "We've been an exemplary Division III program both on and off the floor. We're looking forward to competing for more championships and winning another national title."

Semling could not go into details about the infractions, which included, among other issues, that he exhibited a "lack of institutional control" over the program stemming from illegal practices held before the October 15 start date.

"There's a time when I want to be more specific in being accountable for what mistakes were made," he said. "But that time will have to wait until [the investigation is finished]."

Semling said the NCAA's final report will go to a committee by the end of July. He said he hopes to find out the issues have been "resolved" by the start of the school year in September.

He also added that he believes the severity of the infractions has been overblown, and is confident that his suspension and the self-imposed postseason ban will be the end of the sanctions.

"The speculation about vacating wins and postseason championships and things like that is, in my opinion, way over the top," Semling, who has won two NCAA Division III National Championships with UWSP, said. "I think a lot of people share that opinion. But I don't want to speak for the NCAA or our institution so we're just going to have to wait and see and I'll look forward to sharing more."

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