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IU reports the death of USATF Hall of Fame coach Sam Bell


INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana University reports that legendary IU coach Sam Bell died this morning at the age of 89.

Inducted into USATF’s National Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1992 while still actively coaching, Bell earned a reputation as not only an outstanding coach but as an excellent meet director. While at Indiana from 1969 to 1998, he produced teams that won 23 men's and four women's Big Ten titles. On 18 occasions, Bell's teams placed in the top 10 in NCAA championships. His cross country teams won two NCAA individual titles. Individually, he coached more than 90 All-American athletes, including Olympians Bob Kennedy, Jim Spivey, Mark Deady, Sunder Nix, Terry Brahm, Robert Cannon and Albert Robinson. At the same time, he was meet director or technical director of some of the top meets in the world. He was a U.S. Olympic team assistant coach in 1976 and was the head coach of the 1979 World Cup team.

“Sam Bell’s influence on the sport of track & field reached nearly every corner of the sport,” USATF President Stephanie Hightower said. “His coaching success speaks for itself, but he was also a renowned meet director, and he served USATF in many capacities in our committee ranks and on national team staffs. We have lost a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word, and our sympathies go out to his family, friends and everyone in the sport whose lives he impacted.”

After earning his M.S. in physical education from the University of Oregon in 1956, he entered the college coaching ranks two years later at Oregon State University. In 1961, his Oregon State team won the NCAA cross country title. In 1965, he became the head coach at the University of California and was there four years before moving to Indiana. Bell also has served on numerous AAU and TAC committees. As chairman for the Men's Olympic Development Festival from 1976 to 1980, he developed the festival's format for track and field.

Amanda Brooks
Marketing and Communications Manager
USA Track & Field

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