The financial impact on Bradley University’s athletics department from the postponement of the fall sports seasons remains to be seen.
The Missouri Valley Conference, which includes BU, announced the postponements earlier this month in the interest of health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the Braves, that means there will be no volleyball, men’s soccer or cross country competition.
While those sports are not the revenue generators that men’s basketball is, it still reduces the department’s income.
“Certainly, we’ll miss that. Every dollar we see from a fan who wants to come in and pay to watch our students play is significant,” said Chris Reynolds, Bradley’s vice president of intercollegiate athletics.
“Nobody here questions the decision. This is a tough time. It’s a difficult time for everybody, not just student-athletes but more people in general. We’re all just taking it a day at a time and doing the best that we can.”
With the Valley continuing to explore the possibility of moving the fall sports to the spring, Reynolds stressed the university will make every effort to give those athletes the chance to participate.
“If we can provide that opportunity within our fiscal means, we want to do that,” said Reynolds. “But we certainly will be fundraising as we typically do and working hard to provide our student-athletes the best opportunities we can give them.”
Reynolds said the student-athletes in the affected programs should not be deprived a chance to compete in the spring.
“We want to do everything we can to give our student-athletes the experience that we promised them when they came to Bradley,” said Reynolds. “So, we’ll certainly work within our budgetary restrictions, but we want to do what we can because our student-athletes have earned that right, and they deserve it because they put in so much for this institution.”
Reynolds said the status of the basketball seasons should become clearer next month. He said the university has been in contact with NCAA Senior Vice President of Basketball Dan Gavitt.
“He (Gavitt) stated that there will be a decision sometime mid-September approximately as relates to what the start time and end date will be for men’s basketball, women’s basketball,” said Reynolds. “So, we’ll just have to wait and see. Everything is fluid. It’s really hard to try to predict or guess what’s going to happen.
“Anybody who says they know, they don’t know – because none of us do. But I think that once we get more information from the NCAA, we’ll have a better sense of how things will move forward. But right now, we don’t have enough information.”
The Valley’s announcement postponing the fall schedules left the window open for programs to play nonconference games. But Reynolds said Bradley has decided against that option.
“We just feel that we’re going to err on the side of safety, and we’re not going to compete in any sports, even in a nonconference (contest), for any of our fall sports that we have here at Bradley,” he said.
Reynolds admitted adding volleyball, men’s soccer and cross country to a spring season that already includes baseball, softball, track and field, tennis and golf could create a logistical dilemma.
“I’m not sure logistically how that gets done. I mean, there’s only so many weeks in a month, and you only have so many months to work with,” said Reynolds, noting several athletes participate in both cross country and track. “I know there are people that are working really hard on trying to figure this out, and there hasn’t been anything definitively decided at this point.”
Reynolds said he understands the need for sports to take a back seat during a global heath crisis, but that he shares in the heart break the fall sports athletes have had to accept.
“I remind people all the time that what we’re dealing with right now, it’s just bigger than sports. It just really is,” he said. “So, we’ve got to be very deliberate and take our time and make thoughtful decisions, recognizing that while sports serve a purpose in society, we’ve got to be very mindful of what’s important.
“Unfortunately, right now we just don’t have many answers, and we have to be OK with that for now. But we can’t allow that to paralyze or stifle us from continuing to move forward and doing the best we can to serve our student-athletes and be there for them in every way we can.”
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