University News

Bell Named Director of Athletics

July 15, 2013

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Courtesy of WIU Athletics

MACOMB, IL – James (Tommy) Bell, director of intercollegiate athletics, recreation and intramurals, Indiana University-Purdue University, Ft. Wayne (IPFW), has been named director of athletics at Western Illinois University, according to Gary Biller, vice president of student services. Bell, who will begin his duties Aug. 12, becomes the sixth Leathernecks athletics director since 1926.

"Tommy brings many years of experience to Western," said President Jack Thomas. "His success in fundraising and leadership will further enhance Western Illinois University's athletic programs. Tommy will put administrative measures in place to help Western win championships in multiple sports. He will also continue to make certain that intercollegiate athletics upholds the academic standards and integrity of our student-athletes."

Bell has served as director of athletics at IPFW since 2007, and the Mastodons are coming off the most successful year in department history. Bell saw three of his programs advance to the NCAA postseason in 2012-13: volleyball, softball and women's tennis.

Three players were named Summit League 'Player of the Year,' and the Mastodons received the women's soccer 'Coach of the Year' award. Fifteen of the 16 programs participated in the Summit League tournaments. The Mastodons continued their impressive academic success for the 10th consecutive year, with the departmental grade point average finishing at 3.0 and above.

"I am truly honored to become the athletics director at Western Illinois University. Having competed against Western from my time at Fort Wayne and even at Southern Illinois, I know the great reputation this University has both athletically and academically. That reputation was a great selling point for my wife Laurie and me," said Bell. "I was impressed during my visit on how excited the staff, coaches and administrators were about the department's success last year and how everyone is looking ahead to the future. I want to thank President Jack Thomas, Vice President Gary Biller and the search committee for this opportunity. We are excited to join the Western Illinois University family."

Known for his marketing and fundraising skills, Bell and the IPFW athletics department expanded their brand by entering into a marketing agreement with Nelligan Sports Marketing, and Bell secured funding to endow scholarships for the men's volleyball program, which finished as the NCAA Division I national runner-up in 2007. He also established the Mastodon Athletic Scholarship Fund, which raises money for scholarships for student-athletes.

The 2012-13 academic year also marked the best fundraising year in department history. A new academic center for Mastodon student-athletes is in the process of being completed, and other recent (and future) facility enhancements include a new video scoreboard in the Gates Sports Center, a new playing surface on the tennis complex, locker room renovations for the basketball and volleyball programs and new scoreboard at the soccer stadium.

Bell currently serves as the chair of the Summit League Baseball committee, and is serving a four-year term on the NCAA Amateurism Committee.

Prior to his arrival in Fort Wayne, Bell spent six years as the constituent development officer for the Southern Illinois University Athletics Department. He oversaw all fundraising efforts for the Salukis, including the creation of the Saluki Athletic Scholarship Fund in Fall 2002, increasing that fund by 500 percent during his tenure. Bell led the capital campaign efforts for the Saluki Way master facility plan.

He worked from 1990-99 in the athletic development office at Northern Illinois University, and served as head athletic trainer at Radford University in Virginia from 1980 to 1984. Bell also served as an athletic trainer for the Philadelphia Phillies AAA affiliate Portland Beavers from 1984-1987.

A 1979 graduate of Virginia Tech, Bell earned his master's degree from Radford in 1987.

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