Converse College announces the hire of Jennifer Bell as Athletic Director. Bell will take the helm of the Valkyries’ NCAA Division II Athletic Program on July 23. She comes to Converse from Coker College, where she served as Associate Athletics Director for Internal Operations, and she also brings 18 years of athletics administration and coaching experience from Anderson University. As a Spartanburg native and graduate of Wofford College, Bell looks forward to bringing her family back to her hometown.
“Converse College is a special place, and I absolutely cannot wait to get started.”
“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 Valkyries’ program at its most successful moment in history. Converse added two new teams last year, bringing its roster to 13 sports, and is the only women’s college competing at the NCAA Division II level. During the 12-year tenure of former athletic director Joy Couch, Converse gained full Division II membership, admission into Conference Carolinas, grew its sports programs from 5 to 13, and increased the number of student athletes 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.”
“Jennifer has a passion for athletics and for leveraging the student-athlete experience to teach the value of hard work, discipline, teamwork, and leadership.”
Bell recently completed the year-long NCAA Pathway Program after being selected as one of 25 senior-level college athletic administrator participants from Divisions I, II and III. As a member of the senior leadership team for Coker College athletics, she oversaw Compliance for the Cobras’ 22 NCAA sports, served as liaison for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and was game administrator 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.
As current Chair of the Southeast Region Women’s Soccer Regional Advisory Committee, Bell assists the national committee in the evaluation of teams and of regional and championship competition sites, and helps ensure a successful championship event.
During her 18 years at Anderson University, she held several administrative and coaching positions, most recently serving as the Trojan’s Associate Director of Athletics. She oversaw NCAA compliance, volleyball and men’s and women’s soccer, and served as the Trojan’s Senior Woman Administrator. As head women’s volleyball coach for 11 seasons, Bell compiled an overall record of 207-176 and led the Trojans to eight winning seasons. After becoming a full member of Conference Carolinas in 1999, Bell’s teams posted a conference record of 116-66, and the Trojans finished in fourth place or higher six times, including a second-place finish in 2001 and captured the 2008 Conference Carolinas Tournament title, marking the Trojans first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
At Anderson, Bell coached 27 All-Conference players, one conference Player of the Year and a conference tournament MVP. She was named NAIA Southeast Independent Sectional Coach of the Year following her first season and winning the NAIA Southeast Independent Sectional Tournament for the first time in school history. As an encore, Bell was named conference Coach of the Year in 1999. Her team set the school record for wins in a season that same year.
Prior to her time at Anderson, Bell served as head volleyball coach at Wofford College for four years, guiding the Terrier volleyball program during its transition from an NCAA Division II Independent to a Division I Southern Conference team.
Bell earned her undergraduate degree from Wofford, and as a student-athlete there set single-match, single-season and career records in assists and service aces. She was named Most Valuable Player her senior year. She earned her master’s degree from Coker in College Athletic Administration.
Bell and her husband, Lee, have two children, Madison and Eli.