Northwest Missouri State University announced Wednesday that former Bearcats head football coach Mel Tjeerdsma is returning to campus as director of athletics.
Tjeerdsma, a highly successful and well-respected coach, spent 17 years running the Bearcats' football program before retiring in 2011 and accepting a fundraising job at Austin College in Texas, his alma matter.
He will begin his second stint at Northwest in mid-April as the successor to Wren Baker, who resigned last month after accepting an assistant AD position at the University of Memphis.
"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as the athletic director at Northwest Missouri State University," Tjeerdsma said. "For 17 years, Northwest was our home, and we are excited to return to Maryville.
"The Northwest athletics program has a rich and outstanding tradition, and it is my goal to see it continue to thrive and improve in the years to come. 'Once a Bearcat, always a Bearcat' is more meaningful to me now than ever before."
In his new capacity, Tjeerdsma will be responsible for leading the institution's athletics programs. He will also serve as the Bearcats' top fundraiser.
That job embraces oversight of all athletics personnel, budgets and facilities along with responsibility for strategic planning.
"Northwest is ecstatic to welcome Mel and Carol back to campus," Northwest President John Jasinski said. "We can proudly talk legacy and the past, but more pointedly, we look to a very bright future with Mel at the helm.
"This will not be a figurehead sort of position. His external focus on behalf of Northwest athletics will be invaluable as well as his focus on serving as a leader, mentor and guide to our student-athletes, athletics department, campus community, alumni and friends."
Since leaving Northwest in February 2011, Tjeerdsma coached Team USA to a world championship at the 2011 International Federation of American Football World Cup in Austria.
More recently he served the NCAA, piloting the Coaches Connection program, which uses prominent former coaches to promote dialogue between active coaches and Division II administrative staff.
Mike Johnson, vice president of university advancement, said Tjeerdsma's return to Northwest marks an exciting time of growth and renewal at the university.
"Mel is a man of character and integrity, and he exudes winning on all fronts," Johnson said. "His timely and most welcome return will be embraced by all of Bearcat Nation."
Four years after Tjeerdsma's inaugural season as head coach of the Bearcats football team, Northwest became the first Division II squad to finish a season 15-0. They won back-to-back national championships in 1998 and 1999, the university's first in any sport.
The team added a third D-2 crown in 2009 in a historic victory that capped five consecutive appearances in the championship game.
Tjeerdsma finished his career with a 32-10 overall postseason record, 12 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association conference championships, and with a record of 183-43.
He is the winningest coach in Northwest history.
Matching his performance on the sidelines were honors off of the field. Tjeerdsma's teams featured seven academic All-Americans in his last seven years as coach. He also had two Ken B. Jones Award winners in his last five years, a distinction that recognizes the MIAA's top male student-athlete, as well as one National Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Individual honors include being named the Kansas City Chief's nominee for the Don Shula Coach of the Year Award and being inducted into the NCAA Division II Football Hall of Fame and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
Tjeerdsma is a four-time national coach of the year honoree, was Liberty Mutual's Coach of the Year in 2009 and is a 12-time MIAA coach of the year.
By STAFF REPORT
The Maryville Daily Forum - Maryville, MO
By STAFF REPORT
Updated Mar. 20, 2013 @ 3:51 pm
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