Bradley earned a bid to the NCAA tournament this season following its comeback win in the Missouri Valley Tournament championship against Northern Iowa last week, the program’s first tournament championship since 1988.
However on Friday, while hosting a media event ahead of its first NCAA tournament appearance in 13 years, Bradley attempted to ban longtime reporter Dave Reynolds of the Peoria Journal Star because he doesn’t “promote the Bradley brand.”
Ahead of the Friday event, Bradley sent an email to the Journal Star inviting them to attend. Naturally, the news organization sent Reynolds.
According to Reynolds, he was approached by assistant director of athletic communications Jason Veniskey after he asked to speak to one of the Braves’ players. Veniskey shut him down.
“He pulled me aside and said their policy of me not given extra coverage opportunity was still in place, and I was not allowed to do any interviews,” Reynolds told the Journal Star. “I told him, ‘The newspaper received the invitation.’ He said, ‘That was directed to (editor Wes Huett), not to you.’ I said, ‘He doesn’t cover the team. I have for 29 years.’
“He responded by saying, ‘You don’t promote the Bradley brand, and basically we don’t want you here.’ I said, ‘Jason, that’s not my job to promote the Bradley brand. You know that.’
“He said, ‘That’s what we decided.’ I said, ‘Who’s we?’ He said, ‘Bradley University.’ I said, ‘You realize how petty this is, Jason?’”
The university released a short statement on Friday night saying that Reynolds’ access had been reduced. Reynolds also said that he spoke to Bradley head coach Brian Wardle, who echoed Veniskey’s statements.
“(Wardle) said I’m always looking for the negative and he’s been having this conversation (about it) with me,” Reynolds told the Journal Star. “He’s had it three times and nothing has changed. He said something to the effect of ‘We don’t want you around anymore.’”
It didn’t take long, however, for Bradley to apologize and “reinstate” the Reynolds — who has won the Illinois Sportswriter of the Year award three times and has covered the team for 29 years.
“We recognize that the media is not responsible for promoting the Bradley brand and that was never our expectation,” Bradley said in a statement on Saturday afternoon. “We did not handle the situation appropriately and for that we apologize. Peoria Journal Star reporter Dave Reynolds will have equivalent media access to cover the Braves and Bradley Athletics will continue to work on its relationship with the Peoria Journal Star.”
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