Bowling Green State University announced the hire of a new athletic director on Tuesday morning, with Derek van der Merwe being named to the position to replace Bob Moosbrugger, who was relieved of duty in August.
The South African-born van der Merwe comes to Bowling Green from the University of Arizona, where he served as their associate athletic director under former CMU AD Dave Heeke for five years. van der Mewre served as the university’s chief financial officer, being responsible for creating Arizona’s first-ever comprehensive strategic building plan.
“I truly appreciate this awesome opportunity to join this community,” van der Merwe said during his press availability on Tuesday morning. “I know the moment I’m standing here in Bowling Green is a journey that has brought me to this great institution. I know your history, I know your legacy. I know the great honor and great opportunity that comes with being here.”
van der Merwe, a former Chippewa football offensive lineman in the early 1990’s, has prior experience in the Mid-American Conference, starting his executive career at his alma mater after his graduation, assisting in several departments and aiding in the fundraising and construction of the McGuirk Arena complex, working all the way up to associate athletic director duties before departing the university in 2013.
Prior to Arizona, van der Mewre was at Austin Peay University in Tennessee, where he was hired as athletic director in before being promoted to the university’s vice president, taking responsibility for fundraising, marketing, and building community, public and alumni relations. As athletic director, van der Merwe oversaw a sweeping sea of change, creating a new football stadium complete with naming rights, as well as new brand and identity definitions and a comprehensive strategic plan for APU’s program growth.
van der Merwe’s fundraising background and football knowledge, combined with his decades of experience in MAC circles, was likely an attractive prospect for Bowling Green, who has had struggles with funding for its athletic programs over the last decade and has noticeably regressed in football performance and facilities in recent years.
Bowling Green State University president Rodney Rogers emphasized the fundraising portions, saying “[a]ppropriately resourcing our programs is absolutely key to ensuring they have the success they need to have,” and that van der Merwe’s diversity of experience over the decades made him a good choice.
van der Merwe inherits some interesting contract situations in football and men’s basketball, as both Scot Loeffler and Michael Huger are considered to be on the hot seat for their respective performances. He also inherits a renovation of the Slater Ice Arena, announced back on Oct. 14, as the ice hockey program is looking to progress under Moosbrugger hire Ty Eigner.
[Editor’s note: updated to correct Derek van der Merwe’s name. We flipped the r and w around, and are sorry for the inconvenience.]