MACOMB, Ill. (WGEM) -- He won't officially take over for another four weeks but there's no dismissing the fact that Tommy Bell is now in charge of the Western Illinois athletic department.
"It's a great day to be a Leatherneck, isn't it? It's exciting times," Bell said as he was introduced Monday as WIU's sixth athletic director since 1926.
When Tommy Bell took the podium 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 and being on the losing end of a number of whippings by the Leathernecks and seeing that first hand, " Bell said of his choice to leave IPFW for Western after six years in Fort Wayne.
"Just the tradition, the excellence that was such a draw."
But that's not to say the job comes without hurdles to overcome.
"Right now I think the biggest challenge facing every athletic department in this country in finance," he said.
"It seems to be a battle all the time especially when you're in public institutions because of shrinking state support."
Bell seems to have a clear path in mind for the future of Leatherneck athletics which 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," he indicated.
"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. Because when we get everybody pulling in the same direction we can do some really incredible things here. "
Bell takes the reigns in Macomb on August 12. His hiring comes nearly two months after Tim Van Alstine announced his resignation.
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