CARBONDALE — James "Tommy" Bell, the athletic director at Western Illinois University, will be introduced as Southern Illinois University's new athletic director later today, according to multiple sources.
A press conference has been scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Saluki Stadium.
Ben Marth, the sports director for WGEM News in Quincy, tweeted Thursday night "Don't be surprised if Western Illinois athletic director Tommy Bell is named to the same position at Southern Illinois on Friday."
Multiple sources told The Southern earlier this week that Bell was the frontrunner for the job of the four finalists. One said "it's a done deal," but did not have direct knowledge that Bell had been offered or accepted the job. A source close to the search confirmed today that Bell will be named the new athletic director.
Bell worked in development at SIU at the height of its athletic history. From 2001-2007, SIU won or tied for 28 league championships with much lesser facilities. The football team won or tied for three straight league titles between 2003-2005 at McAndrew Stadium and reached the national semifinals for only the second time in school history in 2007.
The men's basketball team, competing at an SIU Arena that hadn't had any significant upgrades in more than 40 years, won four straight Missouri Valley Conference titles and reached the NCAA Tournament six straight years.
"Most of all, we had a great culture, which I firmly believe is essential in any organization, and something I would stress about becoming your next athletic director," Bell said at his public forum earlier this month. "The reason I'm standing here before you today is because I want to bring Saluki athletics back to its glory days."
Western Illinois has 20 NCAA Division I sports programs in two conferences, the Missouri Valley Football Conference and the Summit League, and the athletics department has a staff of 80.
From 2007 to 2013, Bell was director of intercollegiate athletics, recreation and intramurals at Indiana University-Purdue University in Fort Wayne, and from 2001 to 2007, he was associate director of Institutional Advancement for SIU Carbondale's athletics department. Bell held several positions at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb from 1987 to 1999, including assistant athletic director-annual fund and major gifts officer.
He earned a master's degree in health and physical education in 1987 from Radford University in Radford, Va., and a bachelor's degree in physical education in 1979 from Virginia Tech.