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Three finalists named for CMU AD search

Three finalists have been named in the search for Central Michigan's next athletic director. 

Amy Folan, Alan Haller and Derek van der Merwe are the three candidates in line for the job, according to a Sept. 14 media release. 

"I am incredibly impressed with the diverse pool of talented candidates we attracted for this position," said Provost Mary Schutten, who chairs the 16-member search committee . "Each of our finalists has the necessary experience to continue CMU Athletics' championship culture and support our student-athletes in the classroom and on the field." 

The finalists met this week with the President Bob Davies' cabinet, head coaches and senior athletic department staff, the Academic Senate athletics committee, student-athletes and the gender equity committee.

Folan, the executive senior associate athletics director at the University of Texas, has worked in Austin since 2003. In her current position since 2012, Folan oversees the Longhorn Foundation, the fundraising branch of Texas Athletics, and the Longhorns' Ticket office. 

With Folan at the helm, the Longhorn Foundation has seen steady success in fundraising. In 2019 alone, the membership of the foundation increased by 18,600 members and the largest annual fund total ($42.9 million) and a total production of $116.5 million.

Folan played soccer at Connecticut and earned her master's degree from Georgia. She then served three years Membership Services Representative at the NCAA, where she was directly responsible for assisting the Atlantic Coast Conference, Atlantic 10 and Big 12 Conference with legislative issues.

Haller was promoted to deputy athletic director in 2019 at Michigan State. He originally joined the staff as an associate athletic director in 2010 before being promoted to senior associate AD in 2015. He was also named Chief of Staff in 2017.

In his current position, Haller leads the senior staff and sport administrator group, which is responsible for administration over MSU’s 25 varsity sports. He also handles the primary administrative duties for the football, men’s and women’s cross country and track, and the men’s and women’s golf teams. 

Haller oversees the Varsity "S" Club, MSU's alumni fundraising organization. Haller led the organization to be part of the athletics department, it was previously run by volunteers. 

Before his position at MSU, Haller was a 1st Lt. for the MSU Police Department and served on the force for 13 years. He was also in charge of the Uniform Division. 

Haller played cornerback for the Spartan football team from 1988-91. He earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in both his junior and senior seasons. He was then drafted by Pittsburgh in the fifth round of the 1992 NFL Draft and played three seasons with Cleveland (1992), Pittsburgh (1992-93) and Carolina (1995). 

Haller holds a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Michigan State and a master's degree in human resources from Central Michigan. 

Van der Merwe is the assistant vice president and chief operating officer at Arizona but has strong ties back to CMU. As a student-athlete, van der Merwe played as an offensive lineman for the Chippewas from 1991-95 and helped anchor the team to its Mid-American Conference title in 1994 and served as a co-captain in 1995. Van der Merwe earned both his bachelor's degree (1996) and master's degree (2005) from CMU. 

His administrative tenure at CMU began shortly after he graduated as an academic advisor and life skill coordinator before becoming an associate director of athletics of NCAA compliance for the eight years. 

In 2005, van der Merwe took on overall supervision of business, event management, facility operations, and was assigned sport supervision responsibilities. 

During his tenure at CMU, van der Merwe supervised the $22 million renovation and expansion of McGuirk Arena. After leaving CMU in 2013, van der Merwe spent five years at Austin Peay, including two as its athletic director before being promoted to vice president.

As the AD, he oversaw the construction of the new football stadium and secured a $2.5 million naming rights agreement. His first year leading the athletics department saw the creation of a new comprehensive strategic plan, redefinition of corporate sponsorship and priority seating strategies, and creation of a new brand and identity position for the university and athletics department.

After five years at Austin Peay, van der Merwe moved to Arizona, where he works under former CMU AD Dave Heeke. 

With the Wildcats, van der Merwe has led the athletic department's negotiations with Coca-Cola and a university-wide beverage agreement worth $33 million.

He has also led the negotiations for a new, $25 million, agreement with ClubCorp to manage premium seating and club spaces at Arizona Stadium. His involvement in the ClubCorp project also helped create faculty and staff club at Arizona’s football facility. Van der Merwe also has oversight and management responsibility for the department’s $90 million annual operating budget and is responsible for leading the department’s comprehensive master planning process. 

Rachel Blunt had been serving as the interim athletic director since Aug. 31 after Michael Alford departed to become the CEO of Seminole Boosters Inc. at Florida State.