By any and all comparisons, Rusty Mitchell must rate as one of UNM's most successful coaches. In his first 29 seasons as UNM's head men's gymnastics coach, Mitchell compiled a 221-86 (72%) dual meet record. The Lobos won 11 Western Athletic Conference titles, including six straight from 1986-91. From 1968-73, UNM saw his charges finish in the top of the NCAA six straight seasons. UNM produced 16 NCAA individual champions and 47 All-Americans from 1966-95.
In 1991, the Albuquerque Sports Hall of Fame named Mitchell its 42nd inductee. It was his third hall of fame award, the first being the 1964 selection into the hall at his alma mater, Southern Illinois', and as a 1985 inductee into the National Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
The honor at SIU was hardly a surprise after his accomplishments for the Salukis. As an undergrad, Mitchell won three NCAA titles and was named All-America 10 times. SIU won a national championship and finished second twice. In 1964, Mitchell was named to the United States Olympic team and became the first gymnast in Olympic history to complete a double back.
Having served on numerous gymnastics committees and boards, Mitchell has traveled the globe for the sport to which he has devoted his life.