MACOMB, Il. (WGEM) – His first words as a member of Western Illinois University were met with applause.
"It's a great day to be a Leatherneck, isn't it?," Tommy Bell expressed to a packed house at his introduction in Macomb on Monday afternoon.
When Tommy Bell took the podium to be introduced as the next Athletic Director at Western Illinois University, it seemed as if the decision to come to Macomb was an easy one, citing the past from the outside looking in.
"The tradition, the history, the legacy of the programs having been in the state of Illinois for a number of years," said Bell.
"Being on the losing end of a number of whippings by the Leathernecks and seeing that first hand," said Bell.
"It's just the tradition, the excellence that was such a draw."
That's not to say the job and future will be without hurdles to overcome.
"Right now I think the biggest challenge facing every athletic department in this country in finance," Bell expressed.
"It seems to be a battle all the time, especially when you're in public institutions because of shrinking state support."
Even with a realistic outlook on financial difficulties faced by every institution, Bell seems to have a clear path in mind for the future of Leatherneck athletics.
That doesn't necessarily mean dramatic change, as much as being on the same page as a department.
"We're not going to come in here and reinvent the wheel, we're just going to get the wheel rolling," Bell expressed.
"We want everybody pushing to get the wheel rolling, and look for ways for everybody to get involved and excited so that we're all pulling in the same direction."
"When we get everybody pulling in the same direction we can do some really incredible things here."