Bradley University men's basketball coach Brian Wardle again apologized for denying team access to longtime Peoria Journal Star beat reporter Dave Reynolds. The coach's latest contrition came during a media availability Wednesday on the eve of Bradley's NCAA tournament opener against Michigan State.
"When you make a mistake, you've got to admit it, you've got to own it," the 39-year-old Wardle said, as reported by the Des Moines Register. "And then you've got to teach a lot of young men that if an apology is necessary, you've got to apologize. You've got to own it. You've got to learn from it, grow and move on."
Last Friday, as Bradley held an event to rally support around the team's first Missouri Valley Conference championship since 1988, which in turn secured the Braves' first NCAA appearance in 13 years, Reynolds was told by a Bradley staff member that he wasn't welcome because he doesn't do enough to promote the Bradley brand. In addition, Reynolds and Wardle shared a prickly season-long relationship. Once the Journal Star reported the treatment of Reynolds, a three-time Illinois Sportswriter of the Year who has covered Bradley basketball for nearly three decades, criticism came swiftly from the public and other media outlets, including the Chicago Tribune. The university made a formal apology the following day.
"I made a big mistake," Wardle told the crowd at the team's Selection Sunday event, as reported by the Journal Star. "I wanted to look [Dave Reynolds] in the eye and apologize."
But even a Bradley University twitter post announcing the acceptance by Reynolds of the apology erred in putting the words "Go Braves" into Reynolds' mouth. It was subsequently corrected to quote Reynolds only as saying, "I felt it was a sincere apology and I accept it. Let’s move forward. I want to give this community the best coverage possible."
"We built this program on high character young men, accountability, responsibility, discipline, unselfishness and being honest communicators," said Wardle, who owns a 58-75 record as the Braves' coach and a 20-15 mark this season, after losing in Thursday's first round to Michigan State, 76-65. "And we've grown the program every year and improved it every year. ... You keep moving forward and try not to repeat mistakes."