Justin Sell joined the Jackrabbit staff on May 7, 2009 as the 12th director of athletics at South Dakota State University.
"I love working as part of a team, and that's exactly how we work at SDSU," Sell said. "From President Chicoine, to the faculty and staff, administration, donors and fans, we all work together for the benefit of South Dakota State University and Jackrabbit Athletics."
Sell oversees the Jackrabbits' 21-sport Division I varsity athletics program. Eighteen SDSU teams compete in The Summit League, while football competes in the Missouri Valley Football Conference of the Football Championship Subdivision and wrestling competes as a member of the Western Wrestling Conference. Women's equestrian competes under the umbrella of the National Collegiate Equestrian Association.
Under Sell's leadership, SDSU athletics continues to make strides in athletic competition, in the classroom, in fundraising and in reconnecting with alumni.
Athletically, the Jackrabbits claimed a total of 14 regular and postseason league championships in five different sports since 2009-10. That success earned SDSU The Summit League Commissioner's Cup all sports trophy following the 2010-11 and 2012-13 seasons, after a runner-up finish win 2009-10. SDSU also earned its first-ever Dr. William Steinbrecher Men's All Sports Award in 2012-13 and claimed the league's Sportsmanship Award in 2010-11, an award voted upon by their peers.
In the classroom, Jackrabbit student-athletes continually post a grade-point average of 3.2 or higher in more than 70 different majors, which led SDSU to winning The Summit League's Institutional Academic Achievement Award for the 2009-10 academic year and the Missouri Valley Football Conference Academic Award in all six years in the league (2008-13).
In January of 2011, Sell announced a partnership with Learfield Sports, signing a 10-year deal worth $13 million for SDSU athletics. Learfield Sports quickly established a Brookings-based entity known as "Jackrabbit Sports Properties" that directs all aspects of the partnership, including managing and selling multimedia and sponsorship rights for South Dakota State Athletics.
In addition to the deal with Learfield Sports, Sell directed the implementation of the Letterwinners Club, which provides opportunities for Jackrabbit Athletics to reconnect and stay connected with former student-athletes, while supporting current student-athletes at South Dakota State.
In the years to come, Sell wants to continue reconnecting with former Jackrabbit student-athletes and enhancing the athletic facilities while still maintaining success, both in competition, but more importantly, in the classroom.
To ensure that success, Sell transformed the two-day Stan Marshall Scholarship Auction and Golf Classic, which traditionally raised about $75,000 annually, into the Jackrabbit Athletic Scholarship Auction, a one-day event which raised more than $500,000 in 2013. The Stan Marshall Golf Classic continues as its own one-day event, which also raises money for student-athlete scholarships and honors the late Stan Marshall, the director of athletics at SDSU from 1965-80.
On the facilities front, Sell oversaw the completion of the Dykhouse Student-Athlete Center in 2010, and developed the 2025 SDSU Athletic Facilities Master Plan. Additionally, Sell worked to add permanent seating and a press box at Erv Huether Field, as well as chairback seating in both Frost Arena and Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
On a much larger scale, Sell spearheaded fundraising efforts that raised more than $50 Million in private donations since Aug. 2012 for both the Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex and a new football stadium.
Designed to accomodate the Jackrabbit outdoor sport programs, the Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex features an eight lane, 300 meter track, 100 yards of artificial turf and an additional multipurpose space to hold all facets of practice and host live competitions. Scheduled to open in the fall of 2014, the $32 Million facility also features a human performance facility with state of the art building space for sports medicine, strength and conditioning, orthepedics and rehabilitation.
As the new Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex moves closer to completion, Sell continues working towards the bulding of a new football stadium. The proposed stadium would replace the more than 50 year old Coughlin-Alumni Stadium and be fully completed in time fo the 2016 football season.
Born in Salem, Ore., and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Sell came to South Dakota State from the University of Northern Iowa, where he worked in various roles, both at the university and in the community for 10 years. He also worked at Villanova University, Syracuse University, Ohio State University and Bowling Green State University. Sell gained further experience working in the private sector for various sports teams and events.
In the Brookings community, where Sell lives with his wife, Jennie, and their four children: Abbie, Zach, Josh and Eric, he serves on the the Brookings Chamber of Commerce board of directors as a past president, on Brookings Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors as a past chairperson, as vice president of the Brookings Health System Board of Trustees and as vice president for the Brookings Friends of Baseball
Sell earned his bachelor's degree in sport management from Bowling Green State University (Ohio) in 1991 and completed a master's degree in physical education/sport administration at The Ohio State University in 1992.