Rusty Mitchell attended Southern Illinois University, where he specialized in tumbling, winning NCAA titles in that in 1962, the last two years that tumbling was an NCAA event. He also won the 1964 AAU title in tumbling, and won US Gymnastics Federation championships in 1965-66 in all-around, floor exercise, and tumbling. He later coached at the University of New Mexico for 33 years. Mitchell was the coach at both the 1974 World Championships and the 1973 Universiade. He also became a men’s vice-president of USA Gymnastics and was in charge of men’s gymnastics at that organization. Mitchell served gymnastics in multiple administrative roles, serving on the US Olympic Committee, the National Association of College Gymnastics Coaches, the National High School Rules Committee, and the National Collegiate Sport Council. In 1978 he was inducted into the Southern Illinois Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the US Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 1985.