Keith Mitchell

KEITH Mitchell devoted his life to the development of sport at every level.

Chief technical delegate for basketball at four Olympic Games and – among many other things – President of the Commonwealth Basketball Federation since its formation in 1976, he was perhaps best known in the UK for his time as chairman of the Executive Committee of the Central Council of Physical Recreation (CCPR). He held that post from 1981 to 1987. He had already been awarded the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal (1977) and an OBE (1979) in recognition of his outstanding services to sport.

Mr Mitchell, a former lecturer in the Department of Physical Education at Leeds University, has died, aged 82.

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He was born in Radcliffe, Manchester. At Bury Grammar School, his sporting prowess became evident and he was made vice-captain of the school.

A relationship which would last for more than 50 years also began at that time when he first set eyes on Hannah Forrest, a pupil at Bury Convent School. They were 17 and were married in 1950. Hannah died in 2002.

He 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. He also represented the RAF at fencing.

His first appointment – from 1950 to 1952 – was as master in charge of sport at Wisbech Grammar School where he impressed his headmaster with his abundant energy, his wealth of ideas and his refreshingly straightforward approach. He made a similarly favourable impact in his next post, as director of physical education for the Central YMCA in Manchester.

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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 University in 1955, Keith Mitchell was made lecturer in 1964.

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 Education's Postgraduate Certificate of Education, and he 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 extensively involved in coaching the university's athletics team and was coach to the basketball team – a role he also undertook for the basketball teams of the Universities Athletic Union and the British Universities Sports Federation.

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His career as a sports administrator reflected tireless commitment coupled with remarkable ability. He held a number of offices in the English Basketball Association (now England Basketball). 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 (FIBS) 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 Lose Angels in 1984.

He was a long-time member of the FIBS Central Board, and served on the European Board and several FIBS Commissions. When his term of office ended in 2002, Keith was elected an Honorary Life Member of FIBS and, in 2006, he was awarded the FIBS Order of Merit for his exceptional services to the sport.

Mr Mitchell is survived by his son, Nicholas, his other son, Jonathan, having died in late 2009.

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