QUINCY -- Marty Bell knew what his audience needed to hear.
During a July 24 public forum as part of his interview for the position of athletic director at Missouri Western, Bell was asked if he was ready to give up coaching.
"What could I do if I was just focused on being an athletic director? This opportunity here really excites me because I get the same rush when I help a program win as I do when I am with my own team," Bell said. "I'm ready for that. I've learned that through athletics. I'm ready to focus on that strictly."
Simply put, he was ready to do whatever was needed.
One day after learning he wasn't getting the Missouri Western job, Bell was back in Quincy, ready to start his 11th year in his dual role as vice president of athletics and men's basketball coach at Quincy University.
And his words Tuesday were what the QU community needed to hear.
"Oh, I have the juice to still do (both jobs), absolutely," Bell said. "But I'm OK with doing (just the athletic director's job), too. At this point in my career, where can my skills and experience do the best for the university?"
In other words, he's ready to do whatever the school needs.
So what does QU need?
Bell says he has yet to talk with school officials about his future. However, he admitted that the idea of giving up coaching is "a discussion that's come up before. It's something that I knew at some point in time that an opportunity could present itself. I've just got to be fair to the institution and give time for that discussion to occur."
The coach/athletic director combination isn't ideal. Quincy is one of only two Great Lakes Valley Conference schools that has a coach in charge of the athletic department (baseball coach Gary Burns does the same at Rockhurst). Two jobs that should take at least 40 hours a week to fulfill can mean for long days (and nights) for one person.
"I put in the extra hours," Bell said. "If you were stuck to a 40-hour work week, (the jobs are) going to get watered down. But in another week, I'll be working six or seven days a week through May, and there won't be many eight-hour days. However, I so enjoy what I do that I don't look at it as work. It's been an exciting, challenging opportunity.
"None of that has changed."
Bell wondered aloud at Missouri Western. What could he do if he was just focused on being an athletic director?
Quincy University revealed a $5 million budget deficit in early October, which coincided with the hiring of a financial consultant who helped put in place a five-year recovery plan designed to return the school to financial equilibrium.
Is now the right time to allow Bell to focus on that one role?
"My job is to help the school get back to a place where we're out of recovery and we're back on track, and I think we're getting there," he said. "I need to make sure that what we do doesn't impact the positive results of the last eight months."
It's fair to say that Bell has handled the two positions seamlessly. However, he admits continuing at the same pace isn't a good long-term plan.
"I didn't think I could sustain this model until retirement," he said.
Bell enjoyed his most successful season at Quincy as the Hawks went 25-7, won the GLVC West Division title and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament. However, 86 percent of the team's scoring is gone because of graduation, and the Hawks will have an inexperienced team this season.
Ordinarily, Bell likely would be spending extra time molding a new group. Would the school be better served with a new coach while Bell addressed "the bigger picture" running the athletic department? Can it afford to add another coaching salary to make that happen?
Bell says he only wants to do "what's best for Quincy University."
"I don't want people to think that anything has changed," he said. "I saw an opportunity (at Missouri Western) that intrigued me, and I investigated it. I said great things about Quincy when I was there. I have great faith and trust in our institution, and none of that has ever changed. It wasn't like I was unfulfilled in my job. That never was my motivation.
"For me, it's business as usual. I don't see any other way to look at it."
The issue facing Bell and QU is whether now is the time to explore another way.