March Madness officially began on Thursday, and the matchup between #2 Michigan State and #15 Bradley University defined what makes the NCAA series so great. It also had people wondering when at half-time, as the Bradley Braves, led by coach Brian Wardle, were up up over the Michigan State Spartans 35-34… where is this team from? Where is Bradley University located?
Making a bid to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 13 years, Bradley is a private university located in Peoria, Illinois. Located three hours outside of Chicago, the small college only enrolls 5,400 students a year.
Bradley University’s mascot is a gargoyle named Kaboom! which is modeled off of a gargoyle sculpture located on top of Bradley Hall on the school’s campus. Their mascot was ranked No. 1 by USA Today’s For The Win and even has its own Twitter account.
Needles to say, a win over Michigan State would be huge for Bradley basketball and seal them as 2019’s new Cinderella squad. While the team is new to the March Madness spotlight, they’ve already had their first taste of public controversy when the assistant director of athletic communications, Jason Veniskey, banned a Dave Reynolds, a tenured reporter from the PJ Star from covering the team during the NCAA Tournament.
“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 said. “I told him, ‘The newspaper received the invitation.’ He said, ‘That was directed to [the publications’ sports editor, Wed 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.’”
Coach Wardle banned Reynolds because he was convinced that the reporter only wanted to write a story with a negative slant.
Bradley basketball put out the following statement in response: “At the time his access to the Bradley Basketball program was limited, we discussed the issues that led to the policy change with Peoria Journal Star Sports Editor Wed Huett and the level of access has remained consistent for the last several weeks. Our focus is on preparing for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.”