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Mr Keith Mitchell OBE

Keith Mitchell

We are very sorry to have to let members know of the death, on 12 January 2010, of Mr Keith Mitchell, OBE, former Lecturer in the Department of Physical Education and distinguished national and international sports administrator.

Born in 1927, Keith Mitchell completed a Diploma in Physical Education (with Honours) and a Certificate in Education (with Distinction in Physical Education) at Loughborough College. His National Service was spent as a PT Instructor in the Royal Air Force; during this time, he also represented the RAF at fencing. His first appointment was as master in charge of sport at Wisbech Grammar School from 1950 to 1952. In the space of two years, he considerably raised the level of athletic achievement in the school, impressing his headmaster with his abundant energy, his wealth of ideas and his refreshingly straightforward approach. Keith made a similarly favourable impact in his next post, as Director of Physical Education for the Central YMCA in Manchester. By this time, he was also a highly successful Honorary Secretary to the Amateur Basketball Association, a sport in which he was to reach the highest levels as an administrator and official. In addition, he had acquired coaching qualifications in basketball and athletics (he represented English Universities in athletics) and was a qualified referee in basketball, rugby and soccer.

Appointed Assistant to the Director of Physical Education at Leeds in 1955, Keith Mitchell was made Lecturer in 1964. He proved to be an able and committed teacher, taking a full part in the expansion of the departments course portfolio to include diploma and MA programmes. His wide experience and knowledge of his specialist field the organisation and administration of sport and recreation was reflected in the quality of the work of his students. He was also responsible for many years for the successful and widely-admired games and athletics course that formed part of the School of Educations Postgraduate Certificate of Education. Respected by his colleagues throughout higher education, Keith was much in demand as an external examiner and acted as moderator for Physical Education and Recreation Studies at the then College of Ripon and York St John. He was also a sage and courteous mentor to more junior colleagues. Away from his academic responsibilities, he was extensively involved in coaching the University Athletics Team and was coach to the Basketball Team for twenty-five years a role he also undertook for the basketball teams of the Universities Athletic Union and the British Universities Sports Federation.

In parallel with his University activities, Keith Mitchell forged a career of considerable distinction as a sports administrator. He held a number of offices in the English Basketball Association (now England Basketball) and, as its honorary Director for more than thirty years, played a major part in the remarkable development of the sport in this country. He was elected President in 1985 and was later made President Emeritus and Patron. He was also prominent in the sport internationally and was Vice-President of the Technical Committee of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) from 1970 to 1983. He was responsible for all the technical arrangements relating to the running of the basketball tournaments at several Olympic Games, including Los Angeles in 1984. As an internationally-qualified referee and commissioner, he officiated at both the Olympics and the World Championships. He was a long-time member of the FIBA Central Board, and served on the European Board and several FIBA Commissions. When his term of office ended in 2002, Keith was elected an Honorary Life Member of FIBA and, in 2006, he was awarded the FIBA Order of Merit for his exceptional services to the sport. Throughout his career, he gave generously of his time to support a whole range of organisations involved in promoting the development of basketball, both here and overseas.

Keith was perhaps best known in this country for his time as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Central Council of Physical Recreation (CCPR) from 1981to 1987; during his period of office, and as a member of the Sports Council in parallel with this, he made many effective and valuable contributions to the work of both bodies. In recognition of his outstanding services to sport, he was awarded The Queens Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977 and an OBE in 1979.

Keith Mitchell retired from his University post in 1989. He is survived by his son, Nicholas, his other son, Jonathan, having died in late 2009.

Published: 22 January 2010