Former U.S. Senator and NBA Hall of Famer Bill Bradley to Deliver Commencement Address


Contributed by David Maley

Whether it was fighting for rebounds on the floor of Madison Square Garden or fighting for his principles on the floor of the United States Senate, Bill Bradley has long been admired for his leadership, his integrity, and his tenacity. The former senator and basketball star will have an opportunity to once again score some points, as he has accepted an invitation to deliver the main address at Ithaca College’s Commencement ceremony on May 14, 2006.

“I am pleased that Bill Bradley has agreed to share with our graduates and their guests the experiences and insights gained from his lengthy career in public service,” says Ithaca College president Peggy R. Williams. “This is an outstanding opportunity to hear from a man who has used his exceptional talents to give so much back to his country.”

Bradley was a three-time all-American basketball player at Princeton University, during which time he also captained the U.S. team to a gold medal at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. He was honored as the college basketball player of the year and won the Sullivan Award as top amateur athlete in the country in 1965. After graduating with a degree in American history he was named a Rhodes scholar, studying politics, philosophy, and economics at Oxford.

Bradley went on to play professional basketball with the New York Knicks from 1967 to 1977, helping lead his team to two NBA championships. In recognition of his contribution to the sport, he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982.

In 1978 Bradley turned his attention to the political world, running as a Democrat and winning a U.S. Senate seat in New Jersey. Whether passing legislation or shaping national opinion, Bradley focused on large-scale reform while serving in the Senate from 1979 to 1997. He was the driving force behind the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which lowered tax rates for millions of Americans and closed billions of dollars of special-interest loopholes. He advocated expanded global trade and federal budget priorities that bolstered the national economy and met critical human needs. In the 2000 Democratic primaries he unsuccessfully challenged vice president Al Gore for the presidential nomination.

“I am thrilled for the class of 2006 to have former Senator Bill Bradley, a standout American, as this year’s speaker,” says Eric Nagy, senior class president. “Even if he were famous for only one of the things he has accomplished in his life -- becoming an NBA Hall-of-Famer, Olympic gold medalist, Rhodes scholar, author, senator, or presidential candidate -- he would be an excellent fit to speak at Commencement. His broad-ranging appeal should please students, parents, and faculty alike. No matter which Bill Bradley you show up to see at Commencement, you will have an opportunity to be inspired by a man who truly defines the qualities of a consummate American.”

Bradley has written five books on American politics, culture, and economy. In 1996 he authored a best-selling memoir, Time Present, Time Past, about his life as a senator and his travels throughout the country. In the fall of 1998, his book of basketball-inspired essays, Values of the Game, was a New York Times best seller. He has also hosted a weekly talk show, American Voices, on Sirius Satellite Radio.

Currently the managing director of Allen and Company, an investment banking firm, Bradley also serves as chairman of the advisory board for the McKinsey and Company consulting firm’s nonprofit practice and is honorary executive chairman of the Save Ellis Island fundraising initiative. From 1997 to 1999 he was a senior adviser and vice chairman of the International Council of J. P. Morgan and Company Incorporated.