Derek van der Merwe
Position: Deputy Director of Athletics and Chief Operating Officer
Alma Mater: Central Michigan
Graduating Year: 1996
Phone: (989) 774-6662
Derek van der Merwe
Courtesy: CMU Athletic Communications
Release: 06/05/2013

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A 16-year veteran of Division I athletics administration, Central Michigan University Deputy Athletics Director and Chief Operating Officer Derek van der Merwe has been influential in the landscape of CMU and its athletics department, and his influence has recently expanded to a national level.

The Chippewas have had 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 has won more than 45 Mid-American Conference Championships, maintained a cumulative department grade point average over 3.0, and 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.

Van der Merwe's responsibilities have grown to include oversight of facilities, events, summer camps, business operations, communications, the Chippewa Athletic Fund, corporate sales, and marketing. He serves as the primary administrator for football, men's basketball, softball, and wrestling, and has previously served as sport administrator for field hockey and baseball.

In 2012-13, five Chippewas teams advanced to NCAA postseason play. Three teams 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 has seen five years of record-breaking fundraising and is expected to bring in more than $1.3 million in 2013. In five years, self-generated revenues have increased by 96 percent and the donor base has grown by more than 800 members. CMU annually raises 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 IA 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. 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 has taken 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 has 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. He coordinated CMU's 2003-04 athletics certification self-study and continues to oversee the management and implementation of membership certification requirements. Van der Merwe is also the department's primary liaison to the university's Gender Equity and Diversity Committee and the Academic Senate's Athletics Committee. He has been involved in two separate gender equity reviews and coordinated the writing of two comprehensive institutional Title IX plans. Currently, he is coordinating the addition of two female sports – golf and lacrosse – and is involved in studies to add additional female participation opportunities.

During his tenure, van der Merwe has 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 his current position as deputy athletics director and chief operating officer.

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