The Digital Journalism Blog

Success Lacking on the Hilltop in Bradley Athletics

Posted in Uncategorized by com360bu on May 9, 2013
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by Tim Lahey and Miles Himmel

Bradley Athletics have had a long tradition of winning in athletics, but are in a bit of a slump recently. In this article, the current state of the Athletic department is looked at and their goals to improve. In the video,  Athletic Director Dr. Michael Cross, talks about the future of Bradley sports. Kirk Wessler and Dave Reynolds of the Peoria Journal Star, sat down during this weeks podcast and gave their views on the past and what they think the future could hold. Examining the past four years, the women’s basketball team was the only team sport in the athletic department that boasted a .500 winning percentage or better.

Where’s the Consistency?

Despite a few winning seasons from Bradley sports teams, there has not been consistent winning. Certainly not in recent times, Bradley men’s basketball has made a Sweet 16 appearance and soccer has also made an Elite 8 appearance.

The main focus was Bradley’s team sports. Specifically looking at men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball, softball, soccer and volleyball. Over the past four seasons, no team had an average winning percentage over .500 in the Missouri Valley Conference. However, women’s basketball was the only team with an overall record above .500 on average.

Women’s basketball and soccer averaged the highest winning percentages with .521 and .497, respectively. While softball and volleyball averaged the lowest winning percentages of the BU team sports with .368 and .319. Men’s basketball and baseball finished in the middle of the pack of Bradley sports, with very similar numbers, averaging .419 and .415 .

Athletic Director Dr. Michael Cross believes that having a strong senior class is important to athletic success.

“This year, in our department we only have 30 seniors. That only makes up about 15 percent of our student athlete population. As that number continues to grow, we will see the success that comes with it,” Dr. Cross said.

Those numbers were for the entire department and the number only slightly increases for team sports, 17 percent. While still very low, the percentages of young student athletes is promising for the program.

Another issue that can hurt a success of a team is the coaching turnover, due to the lack of success. Kirk Wessler, executive editor of the Peoria Journal Star believes that as hindered Bradley’s success.

“The question to ask is ‘Have we hired the right coaches?’ They have to put the right coaches in place, and that lack of success necessarily leads to coaching turnover,” Wessler said.

The athletic department has recently created a brand overhaul, re-doing the logo for athletics. Along with this new look they have a new sponsor as well, Adidas.

“Our Adidas deal will kick in next year in the fall, except for men’s basketball which has one year left with Nike. There will be more items in the bookstore and more branded materials from the institution, as well as sideline apparel,” Dr. Cross said.

Other schools similar to Bradley have had success where BU has lacked. Illinois State is a cheaper option for student athletes on teams like baseball. Bradley baseball only has a limited number of scholarships to handout and allows walk-ons, plus tuition is higher. While at Illinois State, students can walk-on while having a cheaper academic option.

Despite a lack of success on the field, the athletic department has brought in a profit to their budget. With the budget increasing, it can give the opportunity of more success in the near future.

“Say if we have increased our budget by thirty percent, why hasn’t there been a thirty percent increase on the court or field? I also understand that both aren’t always directly related,” Wessler said.

The Braves had a 16-16 record this season for men’s basketball and  finished with a final record of 18-17 after the College Tournament. This completes the first winning season since 2009-2010. Next season they increased their season ticket prices up to $1,000 for certain seats, while seat maintenance was increased to $1,500 making the total $2,500 for one seat. This begs the question, is it more important to win or to make money?

Looking ahead, the facilities are in place, the coaches are as well and the budget is heading in the right direction. The time is now for the Braves to bring success back to the Hilltop.


Dr. Cross and the State of Bradley Athletics

Athletic Director, Michael Cross,  gives his take on the future for the program as a whole. There could be a new facility built for outdoor sports in the coming future as well as a new deal with Adidas that will kick in Fall 2013.

Highlights courtesy of: Bradley Athletics

Wessler and Reynolds talk Bradley sports

Kirk Wessler and Dave Reynolds, both sports writers at the Peoria Journal Star, talk about the past and what the future could hold in this most recent episode.

Team Sports over the Past Four Seasons

Analysis of team sports: baseball, softball, women’s basketball, men’s basketball, volleyball and soccer,over the past four seasons can be found here.


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