SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Converse College is pleased to announce the hiring of Jennifer Bell as Athletic Director. Bell will be at the forefront of the Valkyries' when she begins her duties as AD on July 23. Prior to Converse Bell served as Associate Athletics Director for Internal Operations for Coker College in Hartsville, S.C. She also brings 18 years of athletics administration and coaching experience from nearby Anderson University. Bell is a Spartanburg native, graduating from Wofford College.
"I thank President Newkirk and the search committee for their confidence in me to lead the Valkyries as the next Director of Athletics," said Bell. "Converse College is a special place, and I absolutely cannot wait to get started. One of my greatest passions as an athletics administrator is helping our student-athletes and coaches reach their goals each and every day. We will pursue excellence and strive to provide a quality experience for our student-athletes – in the classroom, playing arenas, and the community – as we help our student-athletes grow to become the champions they are meant to be. I also look forward to engaging with alumnae, donors, and the broader Converse and Spartanburg communities, as all of these groups are vital to the success of Converse athletics."
Bell joins the only women's college competing at the NCAA Division II level at a very prosperous time, following twelve years under the leadership of former athletic director Joy Couch. During Couch's tenure Converse attained the status of a full Division II member, acceptance into Conference Carolinas, and expanded its sports programs from 5 to 13, including the addition of field hockey and acrobatics and tumbling this past year. The number of student athletes ballooned from 37 to 240.
In announcing Bell as athletic director, Converse President Krista Newkirk said, "Jennifer has a passion for athletics and for leveraging the student-athlete experience to teach the value of hard work, discipline, teamwork, and leadership. She is focused on improving those around her and advancing the Valkyries athletic program to the next level. It is clear Jennifer has felt called to the position of athletic director for quite some time and has worked hard to gain the experience necessary to achieve that goal. We look forward to welcoming her to Converse."
Bell was chosen as one of 25 senior-level college athletic administrator participants across all three NCAA levels to take part in the year-long NCAA Pathway Program, which is designed to elevate those currently in senior-level positions within athletics administration to the next step as director of athletics. At Coker she oversaw Compliance for the Cobra's 22 sports, served as liaison for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), and controlled all operations for home events. She also served on the college's Futures Task Force and as a faculty member in the Master of Science in College Athletic Administration program.
Throughout her time at Anderson, Bell embraced many administrative and coaching positions, the latest as AU's Associate Director of Athletics. In this role she took lead on NCAA Compliance, ensuring student athletes remained eligible for play. She also oversaw the volleyball program as well as both men's and women's soccer. Bell also earned the title as Senior Woman Administrator for the Trojans. Head coach of women's volleyball for 11 seasons, Bell boasted an overall record of 207 wins to go with 176 losses, including eight winning campaigns. She led the Trojans to their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament after capturing the 2008 Conference Carolinas Tournament championship.
Previously, Bell served as head volleyball coach at Wofford College for four years, leading the program from the Divison II ranks to Division I and the Southern Conference.
Bell earned her undergraduate from Wofford, where she was a member of the Terrier volleyball team, setting single-match, single-season, and career records in assists and service aces. Sher earned the recognition of Most Valuable Player during her final year at Wofford. Bell went on to obtain her master's degree in Athletic Administration from Coker College.
Bell and her husband, Lee, have two children, Madison and Eli.