(From Northwest Missouri State News Service)
MARYVILLE, Mo. – Northwest Missouri State University Director of Athletics Mel Tjeerdsma, who has served in the role since April 2013 after leading the Bearcat football program for 17 years, has announced his retirement, effective April 30.
“My past five years as athletic director have been very rewarding and this time has allowed me to give back to the university that I love,” Tjeerdsma said. “I would like to thank Dr. Jasinski for giving me the opportunity to return as athletics director.
“It’s hard to put into words how blessed I’ve been to work with our athletics administrative staff. They are the ones who have been responsible for getting the daily work done to allow our athletics department to accomplish so much over the past five years. I’ll always be grateful to all of our coaches for all of the energy and enthusiasm that they put into our athletics program each day. Along with all of those mentioned, I want to give a special thanks to our student-athletes and our great fans who make up the Bearcat family. It’s been a thrill to serve as athletics director at Northwest.”
During Tjeerdma’s tenure as athletics director, Northwest has captured four NCAA Division II national championships, 11 MIAA regular season titles and six MIAA tournament titles. During 2016-17, the Bearcats became the first institution in NCAA Division II history to win both a football and men’s basketball national championship in the same academic year.
As director of athletics, Tjeerdsma also has also been instrumental in numerous facility upgrades on the Northwest campus, including the construction of a video board at Bearcat Stadium, the resurfacing of the track and new field turf at Bearcat Stadium, and the creation of the Harr Athletic Success Center. In the fall of 2018, the doors to the Carl and Cheryl Hughes Fieldhouse will open, marking the completion of the single largest public-private partnership in the history of Northwest Missouri State University.
On Jan. 8, Tjeerdsma was selected for induction into the College Football Hall of Fame by the National Football Foundation. He is one of three coaches, along with 10 former players, in the 2018 class, who will be inducted in December.
“Mel’s tremendous service to Northwest personifies a champion of Bearcats – champions in the classroom and in competition,” Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski said. “He is a tireless advocate of D-II student-athletes and of Bearcats – past, present and future. We are indebted to Mel and his wife, Carol, for their ongoing engagement and unabashed focus on always advancing Northwest.”
During his time as head football coach of Northwest’s football program from 1994 to 2010, Tjeerdsma led the Bearcats to a 183-43 record, capturing three NCAA Division II national championships and 12 MIAA titles. He was a four-time American Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year honoree and was named MIAA Coach of the Year 12 times. He was the 2009 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year and is a member of the Division II Football Hall of Fame, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame, the MIAA Hall of Fame and Northwest’s M-Club Hall of Fame. In 2009, he was awarded the FCA Grant Teaff Lifetime Achievement Award.
Tjeerdsma earned his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Southern (S.D.) State College in 1967 and a master’s degree from Northwest in 1977. He and his wife, Carol, have three married daughters and eight grandchildren.
Jasinski said Northwest is evaluating its options in naming the University’s next director of athletics.