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Derek van der Merwe
Position: Director of Athletics
Alma Mater: Central Michigan
Graduating Year: 1996
Experience: 1st Year
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van der Merwe Photos

Derek van der Merwe was named the 12th Athletics Director in Austin Peay State University history, June 5.

A 16-year veteran of Division I athletics administration at Central Michigan University Deputy Athletics Director and Chief Operating Officer, van der Merwe (pronounced VAN-de-meer) was influential in the landscape of CMU and its athletics department.

The Chippewas enjoyed unprecedented success during van der Merwe's tenure, which began in 1997 following his playing career as a CMU student-athlete. In the last 10 years, CMU won more than 45 Mid-American Conference Championships, maintained a cumulative department grade-point average more than 3.0, and has achieved an NCAA Graduation Success Rate greater than 75 percent. In 2009, CMU was awarded the Mid-American Conference's inaugural Cartwright Award as the top overall institution exemplifying success in the classroom, in competition, and in the community.  

While at Central Michigan, van der Merwe’s role expanded to include oversight of facilities, events, summer camps, business operations, communications, the athletic fund, corporate sales and marketing. At various times, he was the primary administrator for football, men’s basketball, softball, hockey, baseball and wrestling.

This past year, five Chippewas teams advanced to NCAA postseason play, three were nationally ranked, and the field hockey team was recognized for the highest team GPA in the nation – an honor the soccer team had earned each of the previous seven years. In addition, the Chippewas played in their fifth bowl game in seven years, winning their second in a row. The Chippewa Athletic Fund, which van der Merwe oversaw, saw five years of record-breaking fund-raising. In five years, self-generated revenues have increased by 96 percent and the donor base has grown by more than 800 members while CMU annually raised more external funds than any other program in the MAC.

In the fall of 2011, van der Merwe was one of 12 senior associate athletic directors from around the country selected by the Division 1A Athletic Directors' Association to participate in its inaugural Fellows Program – a program which establishes professional mentoring relationships and developmental opportunities for future athletic directors. Van der Merwe was the first Fellow selected from a non-BCS institution.

Orchestrating a majority of the department's daily external and internal functions, van der Merwe served as senior associate athletics director from 2005-11, overseeing the business, compliance, facilities, event management, equipment, ticketing, and communications offices. As point person for the department's overall strategic planning and capital projects, he served as chair of the university's Design and Construction Committee for the $22 million CMU Events Center which opened in December 2010. In recent years, van der Merwe took the lead in negotiating a multi-million dollar advertising and multimedia rights agreement with IMG College and an all-sport deal with adidas®, which, along with other branding initiatives, has improved the overall image and position of the athletics department and university. 

Van der Merwe's impact on intercollegiate athletics expanded beyond the local and conference levels and onto a national stage in recent years. A major influence in the sport of wrestling, he served a four-year stint, from 2007-11, on the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee, including one year as chair. He also has served as an NCAA peer reviewer for Division I institutions going through NCAA membership certification. Van der Merwe was the department's primary liaison to the university's Gender Equity and Diversity Committee and the Academic Senate's Athletics Committee. He was involved in two separate gender-equity reviews and coordinated the writing of two comprehensive institutional Title IX plans.

During his tenure, van der Merwe served on a number of campus-wide committees including the Strategic Budget Committee, Web Task Force Committee, Health Services Review Committee, Marketing & Promotions Committee, and numerous faculty and staff search committees. 

His professional career began in 1997 as an academic adviser in the CMU athletics department and he was named compliance coordinator in 1998. He was promoted to director of compliance one year later, then to assistant athletics director in 2001, and associate athletics director with sport oversight responsibilities in 2002. In 2005 he was named senior associate athletics director and was promoted in December 2011 to deputy athletics director and chief operating officer.

A CMU offensive lineman from 1991-95, van der Merwe helped the Chippewas to the MAC title in 1994 and earned Academic All-MAC honors as a co-captain in 1995. He received both a bachelor's degree (1996) and a master's degree (2005) from CMU.

A native of South Africa, van der Merwe came to the United States when he was nine years old. His father was South African and his mother was a missionary to South Africa. After only one year of high school football, which included just five games, van der Merwe walked on to CMU's football team and later earned a full athletics scholarship. 

Derek and his wife, Amy, a former three-time All-MAC Chippewa softball player, have three children: Emily, Lauren and Ian.

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