Northwest Missouri State University announced Wednesday that one of the most successful and well-respected coaches in the history of collegiate athletics, Mel Tjeerdsma, will serve as the school’s next director of athletics. Tjeerdsma starts his new role in mid-April. Tjeerdsma, 66, announced his retirement as the Bearcat football head coach at a December 2010 news conference following 17 years where he orchestrated one of the greatest football program transformations in collegiate athletics.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as the athletic director at Northwest Missouri State University,” said Tjeerdsma, who was enthusiastically welcomed by the Bearcat coaching staff and student-athletes as well as Northwest alumni, faculty, staff, friends and community members. “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.”
“Northwest is ecstatic to welcome Mel and Carol back to campus,” said Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski. “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 and alumni and friends.”
Since departing Northwest in February 2011, Tjeerdsma coached Team USA to a world championship at the 2011 International Federation of American Football World Cup in Austria. He also was a member of Austin College’s Institutional Advancement development team where he led athletics fundraising efforts. Most recently, he served the NCAA, piloting the Coaches Connection program that used prominent former coaches to create a more effective dialogue between coaches and the Division II governance structure and staff.
Tjeerdsma’s honors include being named the Kansas City Chiefs’ 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. He 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 honoree.
Tjeerdsma succeeds Wren Baker, who resigned earlier this month to become the deputy athletic director of external affairs at the University of Memphis.