GUNNISON — After 20 years at the helm of Western State Colorado University wrestling, Miles Van Hee was named the Director of Athletics at the same school. Western State Executive Vice President Brad Baca made the announcement in January.
"I'm extremely honored and thankful for this opportunity to be able to continue working with my current colleagues in the athletic department as the new Athletic Director for Mountaineer Athletics," Van Hee said. "I look forward to collaborating with the coaching staff, athletic administrative staff and the rest of the university to elevate Mountaineer Athletics and Western State Colorado University."
Van Hee officially began his duties on Feb. 1. He will also continue coaching Western State wrestling until the end of the 2016-17 season in March.
"I am extremely excited about the appointment of Miles into this very important role," Baca said. "Over the past two decades, he has exponentially grown the visibility, external funding and competitive performance of the wrestling program, and he will bring that same level of passion and expertise to the broader department."
A Mountaineer through and through, Van Hee has been a part of Western State athletics for 27 years. First as a student-athlete, then as an assistant coach and finally as a nationally decorated head coach.
"As an alum and former student-athlete, Miles understands Western, our tradition and our potential like no others," Baca continued. "With Miles' leadership along with the tremendously talented staff and coaches that surround him, the future is bright for Mountaineer athletics."
Van Hee's dedication to the student-athlete experience as well as fundraising has been a staple of his wrestling program since becoming Western State wrestling's head coach in 1997.
"We will do this together, finding opportunities for all programs to be successful. One team, one fight," Van Hee remarked. "I would like to thank President Salisbury and Executive Vice President Brad Baca for trusting me to lead this amazing group of competitors."
Along with coaching 55 All-americans, 15 national finalists and six National Champions, Van Hee has helped Mountaineer wrestlers earn 83 All-Academic awards including three Academic All-American honors. As a team, the Western State wrestling program was the 2016 NCAA Division II National Wrestling Coaches Association Academic National Champions. The Mountaineers have also finished runner-up for the Academic National Title twice and finished in the top 20 nine other times.
As the Director of the Rocky Mountain Wrestling Camps — the largest running and one of the most successful wrestling camps in America, Van Hee consistently brings in more than 1,200 wrestlers and coaches from more than 100 high schools and 12 states in one of the largest fundraising efforts by any Western State athletic program. The late legendary Western State wrestling coach, Tracy Borah, started the Rocky Mountain Wrestling camp in 1963.
Nationally recognized as one of the best coaches in the country, Van Hee received the Division II Bob Bubb Award for Coaching Excellence last season. In 2004, Van Hee was named the NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year and has been cited by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame — Colorado Chapter as the "Colorado College Coach of the Year" on five occasions (2001, 2004, 2009, 2019, 2011). He is also a four-time Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Coach of the Year (2005, 2009, 2010, 2014).
This season, Van Hee earned the most wins by any coach in Western State history, passing Mountaineer Hall of Fame member Tracy Borah. Van Hee's dual record is 180-92-5 and his teams have finished in the top 24 every year and in the top 10 nine times. The Mountaineers have won three NCAA Division II Regional Titles, Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference titles and have been in the top three in the Regional amd RMAC Championship 14 times. The Mountaineers won 16 straight home duals from the 2008-09 through the 2010-11 season.
Van Hee wrestled for the Mountaineers from 1990-93. He was a two-time All-american and RMAC champion and an NCAA Division II West Regional champion. In 1992, he was selected as a member of the USA-Collegiate Cultural Exchange Team that toured Poland and Germany.
Originally from Fowler, Van Hee was also a three-time high school state champion at Fowler High School and an Asics Junior National All-American and Cadet All-American. He holds a bachelor's degree in technology from Western State (1994) and he earned his master's degree in sports management and administration from the University of Northern Colorado in 1997.
He and his wife, Tonya — who is the Director of Alumni Relations for Western State — have two boys, Bryson and Jared.