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Former Bradley AD Ron Ferguson Dies At 89

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Ron Ferguson, the heralded basketball coach and administrator who served as Bradley University’s athletic director for nearly two decades, died Thursday in Peoria. He was 89.

Bradley soccer coach Jim DeRose, whom Ferguson hired in 1996 in one of his last acts as AD, remembered Ferguson for his dedication to the university and the community.

“What he really wanted out of people was a passion for Bradley, a passion for Peoria, and just to do things in a manner that would represent the university well,” said DeRose. “In our conversation, it was never about winning or losing. It was about trying to make Bradley proud.”

Ferguson started his tenure as Braves AD in 1976, following a three-year stint as an assistant basketball coach at Illinois State. Before that, he coached Thornridge High School to consecutive Illinois state championships in 1971-72 — with a combined record 66-1.

“I will always be appreciative of the warm welcome Ron gave to me when I arrived at Bradley six years ago,” current Braves AD Chris Reynolds said in a statement. “During a lunch, his love of Bradley University and Bradley Athletics was abundantly clear as he recounted fond memories that he experienced with our Braves sport programs.

“Ron is an icon throughout our community, the state of Illinois and the Missouri Valley Conference and his passion for Bradley Athletics serves as an inspiration to me and many others."

Ferguson was inducted into the Bradley Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998. He also is enshrined in the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame.

“If it wasn't for him, I honestly don't know where I’d be in terms of coaching,” said DeRose. “The thing that resonated with me is the proverbial open-door policy was always there. He was just a guy that would really be there to support you and let you make your decisions, but always be there with a phone call or handshake or whatever I needed.

“Then when he retired, what was so special to me was he always stayed in touch. I cherish the handwritten note cards that he sent me after our championships, and he would always ask me how my family was. I think that's the type of man he was.”

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