The two men tabbed to investigate the events leading up to the resignation of former MU basketball coach Quin Snyder are taking their job very seriously. They’ll have to conduct interviews and sift through facts, or at least individuals’ interpretation of those facts. Given their occupations, Jean Paul Bradshaw and Dalton Wright seem well-qualified to do so.
Bradshaw is an attorney and former U.S. attorney for the western district of Missouri. He’s currently employed at Lathrop and Gage law firm in Kansas City. Wright is the publisher of the Lebanon Daily Record. Both men are graduates of the University of Missouri.
Their task is to dig deeper into what was said between MU Athletic Director Mike Alden, Snyder and special assistant and broadcaster Gary Link. Snyder claimed that Link visited him on February 9 and told him that he would be fired if he didn’t resign as head basketball coach. Snyder resigned the next day.
Alden said the reason he sent Link to visit Snyder that day was to check in on him and find out how he was dealing with the team’s losing streak, which grew to six games after a 90-64 loss to Baylor on Tuesday of that week.
On February 14, Snyder’s resignation became official after a buyout package was agreed upon by all parties. That night, Snyder told reporters his side of the story. He indicated that he was told that MU System President Elson Floyd, Chancellor Brady Deaton and Board of Curators member Don Walsworth all had prior knowledge of the decision to terminate him. All three denied that claim.
An investigation by Deaton yielded no indication as to who may have been telling the truth and who may have been lying. Instead, Deaton believed that all parties interpreted what happened differently and that all were doing what was best for the University of Missouri. Everyone, according to Deaton, told their interpretation of that truth.
The next day, members of the MU Board of Curators began calling for the independent investigation.
The two men responsible for that investigation know that many people have already made up their minds in the case, but Bradshaw and Wright haven’t. Even though neither of them knew they’d be asked to conduct the investigation, both tried to remain neutral as they read accounts of Snyder’s resignation.
“When you’re in small community journalism,” Wright said, “you do that all the time. If a friend of yours has a problem in the community, you detach and you write the story and you get on with it.”
Bradshaw said his experience in the legal field has also required him to avoid a rush to judgment. He believes that people who don’t have first-hand knowledge of comments made in a dispute like this, don’t really have a basis for their opinion.
“Unless you’re going to talk to the people involved and get to ask the questions you want to ask,” Bradshaw said, “you really can’t make (a conclusion). So the truth is, coming into it, I have drawn no conclusions.”
He added, “Everybody knows what happened and when I say that I mean that somewhat tongue-in-cheek. The number of people that say they know that something happened that later turns out to be completely not true is amazing.”
There is also the question of what exactly an “independent” investigation is. Some may assert that Bradshaw and Wright’s connection to MU as graduates may be a conflict of interest.
Dalton Wright admits that he has an affinity for the school, but he’s not in anyone’s inner circle.
“I don’t have a, really a dog in the hunt,” he said, “I’m not close to any of (the key players in the controversy).”
Bradshaw added that just being an MU alum doesn’t make you lean any particular direction.
“I’m not sure you can get ten Missouri alums or fans in a room and find complete unanimity between all those people,” he said.
And the issue of compensation directing the two in a certain direction is moot—neither Wright nor Bradshaw will be paid for their work.
One of the big obstacles facing Wright and Bradshaw will be getting all sides of the story on the record. Gaining access to MU employees like Gary Link and Mike Alden won’t be hard to arrange, but getting Snyder to talk will be trickier.
“I’m no longer the head coach of the Missouri men’s basketball team and that entire situation is none of my concern,” Snyder said on February 14. He said he had no plans or desire to be involved in an investigation.
According to Wright, MU System President Elson Floyd has not given them a deadline, though Wright believes the investigation will take 4-5 weeks.
Listen to Misourinet Sports Director, David Sprague’s interviews wtih MU special investigators Dalton Wright and Jean Paul Bradshaw below.