Bradley U President Gary Roberts, a Sports Lawyer, Seeks to Diffuse Controversy over Media Access
Days after Bradley University (BU) unceremoniously banned Peoria Journal Star (PJS) men’s basketball beat writer Dave Reynolds from participating in a media event for the team’s upcoming NCAA tournament appearance, Bradley University and its president — sports law icon Gary Roberts — sought to correct a wrong and diffuse matters.
Here’s what led up to the controversy: Shortly after winning the Missouri Valley Conference title for the first time in 30 years, and earning a guaranteed bid to the NCAA Tournament, Bradley head coach Brian Wardle and his media relations staff banned Reynolds from attending an event with other media that was scheduled to celebrate the accomplishment and post-season expectations.
In a story in the PJS, a Bradley media relations person allegedly told Reynolds: “You don’t promote the Bradley brand, and basically we don’t want you here.” The decision rankled journalists all over the country, who promptly wrote about it.
Roberts is no stranger to the media. Furthermore, in sports law circles, he is well-known for taking the position of “David” in his proverbial battle with “Goliath.” While he may have been a tad late in terms of inserting his voice in the matter, his position in a statement seemed to assure that the problem will never arise again:
“The article in the Peoria Journal Star on Saturday, March 16, relating to the Bradley men’s basketball program’s interaction with Peoria Journal Star writer Dave Reynolds took me by surprise. I knew there were issues between Dave and Coach Wardle in the past and I was under the impression that those issues had been resolved.
“I do not know for sure what happened between Dave Reynolds and representatives of the men’s basketball program other than what is recounted in the article. I am also unaware and unclear about any policy that the men’s basketball program has informally applied to Dave or anyone else. I will certainly look into the matter. What I can say at this time is the following:
- I personally and Bradley University institutionally do not believe that it is the job or duty of anyone in the media or any media outlet to promote Bradley’s brand. It is the media’s job to report the news and facts in a truthful and unbiased way and occasionally to express opinions that are reasoned and based on accurate facts as best they know them.
- There is certainly no formal policy at Bradley University that allows for barring or limiting access to any member of the media or any media outlet. If that has occurred, it was inconsistent with Bradley’s general attitude toward the media and what I would regard as the implicit policy of the University.
- Going forward, all employees of Bradley University will be informed that it is Bradley’s policy that all members of the media are to be treated on a non-discriminatory basis when it comes to access to information and people.
“I hope this clarifies the position of Bradley University that some have called into question.”