In 29 years (1970-98) at the helm of the Indiana University track and cross country programs, Sam Bell’s teams won 23 men’s Big Ten title and four women’s conference crowns. At the national championship level, Bell directed the Hoosiers to 18 top ten finishes in cross country and track & field.
Bell began his career as a high school coach in Nebraska in 1950. After earning his M.S. in physical education from the University of Oregon in 1956, he became the head track and cross country coach at Oregon State in 1958, where he led the Beavers to an NCAA cross country championship in 1961. In 1965, he moved to Berkeley, and he took over the Indiana University program in 1969.
A 1992 National Track & Field Hall of Fame inductee, Bell coached 141 Big Ten individual outdoor champions, 92 Big Ten indoor champions, and ten Big Ten cross country champions. His athletes also included 69 outdoor All Americans, 63 indoor All Americans, 15 cross country All Americans, 11 Olympians, and 24 national champions. Bell’s outstanding athletes included Olympians Bob Kennedy, Jim Spivey, Mark Deady, Sunder Nix, Terry Brahm, Robert Cannon, and Albert Robinson.
Bell’s teams at Indiana won 23 men’s and four women’s Big Ten titles and placed in the top ten at the NCAA championships 17 times. Bell also gained a wealth of international coaching experience – he was the U.S. men’s distance coach at the 1976 Olympics and also directed the 1979 U.S. World Cup team and 1987 U.S. Junior Pan-American team. In addition, Bell has directed more than 20 major cross country and track & field competitions, including the Olympic trials, national championships and many international qualifiers.
Bell was president of the NCAA Division I Track Coaches Association from 1979-80 and was the driving force behind the formation of The Athletics Congress (now known as USATF), which replaced the AAU as governing body of track & field in the U.S. 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 & field.
In recognition of his many achievements, Bell was inducted into Indiana University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.