Budget cuts are no problem for Bell’s 10-point plan


SIU Director of Athletics Tommy Bell poses for a portrait in his office on Oct. 6, 2015. 

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

SIU Director of Athletics James ‘Tommy’ Bell’s 10-point plan, Restoring the Glory, will not be affected by budget cuts.

The SIU athletic department received a 10 percent cut in appropriated funds as part of the university’s overall $13.5 million budget reduction. 

“[Bell] has had time to prepare for the budget cuts that were handed out,” SIU President Randy Dunn said. “He doesn’t delegate his work off to others — he does what needs to be done. In that respect, I feel that he is a blue-collar athletic director.”


Income from ticket sales and donations aide the athletic department financially with development of special projects — including new facilities.

“That’s the beauty, [athletics] can control our own destiny, donors will ask us what special projects they can invest in,” Bell said. “We can generate $10,000 from six different people that will offset other expenses. We have that luxury.”

There are no significant changes to athletic personnel on the horizon, Bell said.

Bell served as athletic director at Western Illinois from 2013-15 and Indiana Purdue Fort-Wayne from 2007-13. Dunn said his experience made the decision-making process to hire him easier.

Bell previously served as the associate director of institutional advancement for Saluki Athletics from 2001-07, where his duties included financial and budget reporting for the university, meaning he already has relationships set up with donors, Dunn said.

As director of athletics, Bell’s 10-point plan includes creating new donor opportunities and re-branding the Saluki Athletic Scholarship fund. Bell started the fund while he was director of institutional advancement, but it has not had a new brochure in three years.

Bell plans to create new opportunities by becoming more transparent in where donations are being allocated to, as well as discovering new income streams.


“Whether someone is donating $3,000 or $30, they need to know that money is helping a student receive an education,” he said. “We’re looking to start donor clubs for specific teams, so members can donate to their favorite teams. Our goal is to build ourselves into a 2,000-member organization, with a long term plan of becoming a 3,000-member club.”

Also in his 10-point plan, Bell wanted university exposure through ESPN3’s coverage of Missouri Valley Conference athletics. Currently, the college of mass communication and media arts works with ESPN to cover SIU football, volleyball and basketball home games. Dunn said ESPN’s coverage of the university will help recruit prospective athletes. 

Evan Jones can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @EvanJones_DE