In the limelight
Bradley immediately captured the national spotlight when the Braves were invited to compete in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
A few sports commentators made disparaging remarks about Bradley and other midmajors in the tournament, but those comments were quelled soundly when the Missouri Valley Conference outlasted the Big Ten and other powerhouse conferences, and both Bradley and Wichita State advanced to the Sweet 16. College basketball fans who may not have paid much attention to Bradley in the past were impressed as they watched nationwide broadcasts on CBS and saw Bradley take on and defeat Kansas and Pittsburgh. Media attention mounted as the Braves made preparations to play Memphis at the Big Dance in Oakland, California.
Reporters seemed to descend on the team and on campus. Marcellus Sommerville ’06 was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. A banner across the top of USA Today announced, “Bradley slays Pitt, moves to Sweet 16.” A poignant story about Tony Bennett ’06 appeared in the Detroit Free Press.
The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Atlanta Journal Constitution, and dozens of other newspapers nationwide hailed the success of the Braves. Coach Jim Les ’86 was interviewed on ESPN and by other media outlets. Online, an article on espn.com referred to J. J. Tauai ‘07 as “the in-uniform personification of Bradley basketball: overlooked and underappreciated outside the Braves locker room, cherished and respected inside.”
The Bradley admissions office also saw increased interest. Tom Richmond ’88 MA ‘94, director of admissions marketing and communications, said that while the college application cycle for the 2006-07 school year is generally over by March 1, his office anticipates an increase in the number of applications next year. Web data gives striking evidence. Hits on the Bradley admissions Web site totaled 479,845 in March, up from 254,937 (an 88 percent increase) from March 2005. Hits on the freshman main page, the entry point for admissions’ primary audience, were at 19,716 for March, up 116 percent from a year ago. Hits were particularly high the day of and the day after the win over Pittsburgh.
Hits on bradley.edu, the University’s main Web site, nearly doubled on those two days, as well.
The NCAA Executive Committee announced on April 28 that Bradley University has been removed from the list of schools subject to restrictions on the use of Native American mascots, names, and imagery at NCAA championships and placed on a five-year watch list. During this time, the NCAA will work with the school to assure that circumstances do not change. Bradley is allowed to fully participate in and host NCAA championships without restrictions.
The Executive Committee agreed that Bradley had previously removed all Native American imagery associated with its athletic programs and only kept the generic nickname “Braves.” Based on information submitted to the NCAA by Bradley for an appeal, the Executive Committee found that Bradley demonstrated its ability to provide an environment that is not hostile or abusive, and one that is consistent with the NCAA constitution and commitment to diversity, respect, and sportsmanship.
“Bradley University has used the Braves name since 1937, and we are pleased that the many generations of Bradley athletes to come will continue to bear that name, representative of the pride and tradition of our University,” said Dr. David Broski, Bradley University president. “The University will continue to encourage in our student body the qualities of honor, courage, tenacity, loyalty, and endurance associated with the Braves name. Additionally, the University will continue its commitment to encourage our students to learn about and respect Native American peoples and traditions. Bradley does not now and will not in the future use Native American depictions in its logo.”
Steve Dunn '78, managing editor of the Daily Gate City in Keokuk, Iowa, shared his thoughts on his alma mater's Sweet 16 team. Go>
Read "Bradley University basketball history," by Bobby Parker, assistant athletic director for communication. Go>
Read "How the Famous Five became famous," by Deane Richardson '41. Go>