A new athletic director was introduced to campus and the Peoria community March 18 in the Owens Atrium of Renaissance Coliseum, just 20 days after Michael Cross announced he would be resigning upon the completion of the women’s Missouri Valley Conference basketball tournament.
Chris Reynolds was raised in Peoria and has come back to serve as Bradley’s 10th Director of Athletics. Reynolds said he was eager to return to Peoria and become a part of the Bradley community.
“Bradley has an excellent reputation for academics, and the athletic facilities are phenomenal,” Reynolds said in a press release. “I remember the college environment Bradley provided was always something special for high school students. My family and I are very much looking forward to being a part of the Bradley community.”
Similarly, other Peoria natives are excited about Reynolds’ return.
“I think he has a lot of experience and a lot of love for Peoria,” community member Connie Ogden said. “I know his mother, and they’re just a wonderful family.”
During his introduction, Reynolds laid out his three-point plan as AD.
His first idea was to support student athletes in all aspects, including in the classroom, in the community and in competition. His second was to keep the Department of Athletics in line with the goals and values of the university, and his final point focused on energizing and engaging the community.
“This third point is vitally important: make no mistake about it,” Reynolds said to a crowd of 160. “Bradley University is Peoria’s university, and Peoria is Bradley University’s community.”
Reynolds stressed the last aspect of his plan and said he wanted to make sure that the Peoria and Bradley communities work together.
“We [have] a solid plan in hand, and we will work tirelessly to communicate that plan within the community from university leaders to the academic community, community leaders, alumni and fans,” Reynolds said. “We will be inviting them to become a part of our plan.”
Community members said they were feeling optimistic about this strategy.
“It’s exciting for Peoria; it’s exciting for Bradley University,” former Braves basketball player and community member Daniel Ruffin said. “We’re actually moving in the right direction. I think [Reynolds] coming back home was a great opportunity for him and the community in general.”