Mitchell, Bell named to NIU athletic posts

NIU Intercollegiate Athletics has named Tom Mitchell as Associate Athletic Director for Development and Tommy Bell as Assistant Athletic Director of Chapter Development, Athletic Director Gerald K. O’Dell announced Oct. 22.

“We’re positioning ourselves for success in the 1990s and beyond,” O’Dell said. “Tom Mitchell’s role will be to oversee our athletic development activities with an emphasis on major gift solicitation. His efforts will be an integral part of our capital improvement plans as we work to renovate multi-use Huskie Stadium and upgrade our other facilities.

“All of us, our administration, the search committee, and people in the university community, feel that Tom and Tommy Bell will make a great team in our friend-raising efforts on behalf of the Huskies in the northern 23 counties of this state.”

Mitchell, 36, officially begins his duties at NIU on Nov. 1. The New Sharon, IA, native (born in Oskaloosa, IA), joins NIU Intercollegiate Athletics after serving as the Associate Director of Development for the University of Nebraska Foundation since April, 1988.

Bell, 34, has been a fixture in the Huskie program since becoming Travel Coordinator in Sept. 1987, and then added duties in the development area in January, 1989. His responsibilities include the NIU Huskies Athletic Association chapter work and the Huskie Wheel Club courtesy car program.

Both hirings are subject to the approval of NIU’s Board of Regents.

“Tom easily met all the criteria set up by our screening committee,” O’Dell said. “He possesses a strong background in major gift solicitation. He is extremely organized and has considerable experience in strategic planning.”

At the University of Nebraska Foundation, Mitchell was part of a team that produced over $200 million in assests. Contributions and investment income for fiscal year 1990 totaled over $40 million. The foundation serves the University of Nebraska campuses in Lincoln and Omaha, plus the NU College of Medicine.

Mitchell also has strong experience in the athletic administration and coaching at the collegiate level.

He spent two seasons as assistant men’s basketball coach at Nebraska-Omaha (1984-86) under head man Bob Hanson prior to becoming UNO’s first athletic development officer.

In a newly-created position as Director of Athletic Development at Nebraska-Omaha, Mitchell started on the “ground floor” with 500 donors in April, 1986. Two years later, he had implemented a major development program.

Mitchell increased annual giving by 52 percent, initiated a UNO faculty/staff payroll deduction plan that improved athletic contributions by 11 percent, installed a $1,000,000 sports endowment program, created the school’s first corporate sponsorship program, and almost doubled the donor base to 910.

Prior to UNO, Mitchell did double duty as head men’s basketball coach and admissions coordinator at Muscatine (IA) Community College in 1980-84.

In those seasons, MCC finished 17-13, 21-10, 27-3, and 21-9 and captured three East Central Iowa J.C. League titles.

“In any organization, you are one of many,” Mitchell said. “The greatest asset of any organization is its people. And NIU has outstanding people.

“I am extremely impressed with the leadership of the athletic program and the university. And I am anxious to start working with the athletic development people and the university-wide development people.”

Mitchell, a former four-sport letterman (basketball, baseball, football and track) at North Mahaska (IA) High School (1968-72) and cager at Muscatine CC (1972-73), plus Southeast Missouri State University (1973-76), likes what he sees on and off the field for NIU.

“The university continues to grow. The programs continue to progress. The overall athletic program is on a solid foundation for continued success,” he said. “All this creates the opportunity for athletic development to make a difference.”

At the University of Nebraska Foundation, Mitchell was working on a major initiative with a $30 million goal over a five-year span.

After two and a half years, gifts and pledges totaled over $26 million.

“The key to development success,” Mitchell offered, “is 90 percent perspiration and 10 percent inspiration. Our main objectives will be to sustain and increase our basic support. Internally, we will audit each component of our development program and set forth a master plan with short-term and long-term goals.”

Mitchell’s concept of athletic development revolves around three central value concepts: quality, a customer service approach and innovation and creativity.

“We need to educate, motivate, and sensitize people to development opportunities,” Mitchell added.

Mitchell graduated from Southeast Missouri State in 1977 with a bachelor of science degree in physical education and business administration.

He recently completed work on a master of science degree in educational administration supervision from UNO.

“Athletics has been a major part of my life,” Mitchell said. “I really enjoy the competitive arena and the enthusiasm that college athletics generates. Northern Illinois is on the threshold of greatness and people are committed to excellence. I look forward to becoming part of this fine team.”

Prior to his NIU tenure, Bell served as an athletic trainer at St. Anthony’s Center for Sports Medicine in Rockford and for the Portland Beavers Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team (1984-87).

A product of Hopewell, VA, Bell received a bachelor of science degree in health and physical education from Virginia Tech in 1979 and a master’s in the same field from Radford University in 1987.