Michigan State University Interim President John Engler appointed Bill Beekman as MSU’s athletic director pending approval of the Board of Trustees during a special meeting on July 17. Beekman has served as interim athletic director since February.
“As I spoke with our coaches and consulted with trustees about a possible search, I heard from virtually everyone that they love the job Bill is doing,” Engler said. “I’m very confident Bill will excel. He is a person of integrity, attentive, a great listener, someone who really knows the university and he has a calming influence.”
Beekman will be responsible for oversight of MSU’s 25 varsity sports teams as well as the care of more than 800 Spartan student athletes. The position provides leadership in the areas of sports management, game operations, financial administration, personnel, fundraising, corporate interaction, facility management, marketing and communication.
Beekman replaces Mark Hollis, who retired in January in the wake of the Larry Nassar scandal. His appointment as full-time athletic director comes despite promises of a national search, and Engler saying no internal candidates would be considered. Despite that, Engler said all roads led back to Beekman.
“In talking with other AD’s from other schools about what qualities they had to draw upon, what qualities needed to be available to an athletic director, I kept hearing about things bill already possessed,” Engler said.
Much of Monday’s press conference focused on athletics. But Beekman touched on the Nassar scandal, which opened the athletic director job, calling the last few years “among the darkest” in MSU’s history.
“Among the over 300 survivors who came forward that were subject to larry nassar’s horiffic acts, over 30 were MSU students, and several of those students were student athletes,” he said. “We must do better, and we will.”
Beekman also touted changes made to MSU’s sexual assault prevention program and reporting processes.
“We have improved and increased training at all levels,” he said. “We’ve developed policies to ensure the availability of and access to chaperones when they visit medical professionals.”
A MSU alumnus, Beekman has served his alma mater since 1995, assuming his most recent role as vice president and secretary of the Board of Trustees in 2008. Previously, he served as executive director of the MSU Alumni Association, senior adviser to the Provost and assistant dean for finance in the College of Human Medicine. In his prior roles, Beekman gained experience handling large budgets and managing large staffs, overseeing key negotiations and managing important relationships, including those with alumni, donors and corporate partners.
Engler addressed concerns that an outsider was needed, saying Beekman fit the bill because he came from outside the MSU athletic department.
“He’s fresh, he’s new, he’s not been here in the department before,” Engler said. “He’s got great background to make changes that are necessary.
While MSU still faces many challenges, Beekman’s goal is to return attention on the athletic program back to where he says it belongs.
“The media will probably tend to report on two things: wins and losses, and bad behavior,” he said. “And what I’d like to encourage y’all to report on is the extraordinary accomplishments of so many of our student athletes.”
In accepting this position, Beekman is stepping down as secretary of the Board of Trustees. MSU will work to replace this position as soon as possible.
**This story has been corrected to show former MSU Athletic Director Mark Hollis retired in January.