Air Force Academy athletic director announces retirement

Air Force Academy Chapel Sunset Scene small2Air Force Academy Director of Athletics Hans J. Mueh has announced his retirement, effective at the end of the 2014-15 academic year, which will be his 11th as athletic director and 43rd overall at the Academy.

“I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to be in the chair as [athletic director] of the best Division I program in the NCAA,” Mueh said. “These 10-plus years have flown by because athletics is a non-stop business, and we’ve had so many changes in coaching staffs, construction projects, a whole new corporation to help keep us competitive and thousands of home contests.

“I could not imagine that there’s a better, more committed, more competent and more professional staff anywhere in the NCAA,” he added. “They’ve made my job easy, so I’ve had the chance to enjoy watching these future Air Force leaders display their courage, stamina, self confidence, self discipline, teamwork and that indomitable will to win at the highest levels of competition. To quote Lou Gehrig, ‘I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth.’”

A retired Air Force brigadier general, Mueh was vice dean of faculty for two years prior to his retirement from active duty in the summer of 2004 and his appointment as athletic director. Mueh was heavily involved in academy athletics before becoming director of athletics. He was the academy’s faculty athletic representative from 1996-2004 and was a long-time member of the board of directors for the Air Force Academy Athletics Association.

Since becoming the director of athletics, Mueh has led the Academy to some remarkable feats. In 2007, the academy was one of only three schools (Michigan State and Boston College) to reach post-season play in football (2007), men’s basketball and ice hockey (2006-07). It marked the first time a service academy has ever had a team compete in the post-season in all three sports.

In addition, under his watch the men’s basketball team has played in another NCAA tournament and the National Invitational Tournament’s Final Four. The ice hockey team won conference championships and advanced to the NCAA tournament five times. Mueh was on the selection committee that hired current head coach Frank Serratore and led the Academy’s move into the Atlantic Hockey Association.

The football program, the academy’s flagship sport, has gone through a major overhaul under Mueh. He led the transition from the retirement of the legendary Fisher DeBerry after 23 years at the helm to hiring current head coach Troy Calhoun, a 1989 academy graduate. Calhoun’s impact was immediate, leading the Falcons to a 9-4 overall mark and a second-place finish in the Mountain West Conference in 2007. The Falcons qualified for their first bowl game in seven years, playing in the Armed Forces Bowl in 2007. The program has gone to a school-record six consecutive bowl games and averaged more than 9,000 bowl tickets sold.

Mueh has been just as successful behind the scenes with the administration of the department. He restructured the department with an internal/external model that has streamlined resources and made the department more effective. In addition, the athletic department made the transition to a federally-chartered non-profit organization in the summer of 2013, which has led to more fundraising opportunities.

Mueh was instrumental in the USAFA Endowment and the announcement of the Holaday Athletic Center, an indoor training facility. The $15 million facility was completed in July 2011.

Mueh has also been active within the conference and the NCAA. He was recently selected to be part of the NCAA Division I Amateurism Cabinet and has been active on the NCAA’s academics/eligibility compliance cabinet, the men’s golf committee and the region 7 postgraduate scholarship committee. Mueh has been equally active within the conference on various leadership committees. He is currently on the awards and recognition committee and has previously served on the joint council executive committee and committees on championships, television and sportsmanship.

Before assuming his duties as vice dean at the academy, Mueh was permanent professor and head of the department of chemistry at the academy since October 1987 where he oversaw the annual design and instruction of 25 undergraduate courses for 1,500 cadets annually.

Mueh was born Jan. 8, 1944, in Celle, Germany, and emigrated to the United States in 1951. He entered the Air Force in 1962 as a member of the academy’s eighth graduating class, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1966. While at the academy, Mueh was a two-year letterman in soccer as a goalie. He still holds the academy record for saves in a game with 30, accomplishing it twice in 1965 against North Carolina and Benedictine. In his junior and senior years, Mueh helped the Falcons to the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Soccer League championship and quarterfinal berths in the NCAA tournament. He was a first-team all-league selection in 1965.

Following graduation, Mueh completed two assignments in intelligence before attending the University of Wisconsin where he earned his master’s degree in chemistry in 1970. He later earned a doctorate degree in chemistry from Wisconsin in 1976 as a distinguished graduate. He has also completed Squadron Officer School, Air Command and Staff College and Air War College.

Between earning the two degrees, Mueh returned to the academy as an instructor in the department of chemistry from 1970-72. He also served as assistant soccer coach and played semi-pro soccer with the Aurora Internationals in Denver during those two years, leading the Internationals to the Colorado state title in 1971.  He volunteered for duty in Vietnam and served as an intelligence officer in Saigon, Republic of Vietnam and at Nakhon Phanom RTAB, Thailand, in 1972 and 1973.

After earning his doctorate degree, Mueh returned to the Academy in 1976 as an associate professor of chemistry. He remained at the academy except for a stint in 1985-86 as the special assistant for technical matters at the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.

In 1986, he assumed the position of acting head, department of chemistry, before being selected for his position of permanent professor and head of the department of chemistry in 1987. As faculty athletic representative, he was active in both the Western Athletic Conference and Mountain West Conference, and was the Academy’s representative on the transition team to form the new MWC, the only faculty athletic representative on the team. He competes in golf, racquetball, handball and tennis, and has promoted Air Force Academy intercollegiate sports throughout his tenure, beginning with work as chairman of the hockey eligibility committee, officer representative to the men’s golf team and five years as the officer representative to the football team.

Mueh is married to the former Sally Flax of Cincinnati, Ohio. They have three children: Kristine, Kurt and Deborah.

The Academy will soon begin to market and strategically target an executive level candidate pool with the competencies and motivation to assume the role of athletic director.