PHOENIX, Ariz. – When Doyle Wilson left the Arizona Christian University baseball coaching job in late 2012 to take a scouting position with the Arizona Diamondbacks, ACU President Len Munsil knew he needed to move quickly to find a new coach who could build on the program's momentum. The new coach would also be responsible for leading the Firestorm into their first season as a member of the powerful Golden State Athletics Conference, which produced the 2011 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) champion.
After all, in 2012, Wilson had guided ACU to a 34-23 record in the second season of ACU baseball history, and the Firestorm won the Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Conference Tournament at California State University-San Marcos. They advanced to their first NAIA National Tournament, where they won one game and nearly reached the NAIA World Series. Two ACU players from the 2012 team were drafted by major league baseball clubs: outfielder Alex Glenn in the 12th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks and catcher Zac Livingston, the A.I.I. Conference tournament's Most Valuable Player, in the 34th round by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Wilson also was instrumental in the construction of Firestorm Field on the ACU campus, which opened in February, 2012.
"We appreciate Doyle Wilson's contributions in putting ACU baseball on the map in one season, with a conference championship and two players taken in the Major League draft," said President Munsil. "He set the bar high. This was a great opportunity for him, and we wish him all the best with the Diamondbacks."
As it turned out, Munsil did not need to go far to find Wilson's replacement – across the hall and two doors to the left from Wilson's former office to be exact – right to the office occupied by Athletics Director and Vice-President for Operations and Athletics Don Mitchell, who once worked as Scouting Director for the Arizona Diamondbacks when they entered MLB as an expansion team in 1995.
"We are thankful we had someone already in our athletics department with Don Mitchell's baseball experience to take over the program," continued Munsil. "With more than 20 years in professional baseball, a World Series ring, and a history of player evaluation, along with recruiting players and helping them achieve their dreams, we were excited that Don was willing to take on this new responsibility. For ACU players who dream of playing at the next level, you won't find many college coaches with Don's connections and credibility in professional baseball. At the same time, he will provide the spiritual maturity and Christian leadership we desire for all of our athletes."
Don Mitchell joined the Arizona Christian University administration in April, 2011, as Vice-President for Operations and Athletics and as Athletics Director, oversees ACU's 15-sport NAIA intercollegiate athletics program and has guided Arizona Christian's entry into the Golden State Athletics Conference. Two of ACU's teams have received the school's first-ever NAIA national rankings during the 2012-13 season – men's cross country and men's basketball.
Now as head baseball coach, Mitchell directs a growing program with over 50 players that includes a strong varsity team with a 55-game schedule that includes 36 GSAC contest as well as a junior varsity squad with a 32-game schedule.
Prior to coming to ACU, Mitchell founded and served as President of Global Athletes Advisors and Management Endorsement Services (GAAMES), a representation firm for baseball players, from 1999 to 2011. During his tenure at GAAMES, he built numerous relationships and an outstanding client roster, and represented 32 players who were drafted in the top three rounds of the MLB draft.
Playing third base for the University of Tennessee at Martin, Mitchell earned All-Gulf South Conference first team honors in 1981. He completed his Associate of Arts degree in construction technology at Paducah Community College and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering at Tennessee-Martin.
He signed with the Cincinnati Reds organization in September, 1981, and played three seasons in the Reds' minor league system. After ending his playing career, Mitchell served for one season as pitching coach at Montreat-Anderson College (N.C.) prior to beginning his professional scouting career.
Mitchell became Regional Scouting Supervisor for the Cleveland Indians and is responsible for the drafting of future Major League Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Jim Thome. After scouting assignments in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Atlanta, Mitchell joined the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks organization as Scouting Director in 1995. He was responsible for evaluating talent, negotiating contracts and dealing with agents as well as general managers. He was been directly involved with over 500 player contracts. During his four-year tenure with the Diamondbacks, 36 of the players Mitchell scouted were named to major league rosters.
Don and his wife, Michelle, have been married since 1981, and have three adult daughters, Jennifer, Julie and Jamie. The Mitchells are members of First Southern Baptist Church of Scottsdale (Ariz.), which Don serves as a deacon and as a leader in the Armor program, a ministry for the training and mentoring of grade 3-6 boys.