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Michigan State Athletic Director Bill Beekman to step down

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Syndication: Lansing Nick King/Lansing State Journal, Lansing State Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Bill Beekman, Michigan State University’s vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics, is stepping down, the school has confirmed. Beekman will stay with the university, but transition out of the athletics office and into a newly created role as vice president for strategic initiatives. The new role will “help coordinate MSU’s strategic plan implementation efforts,” and Beekman will work along side Michigan State President Samuel L. Stanley Jr.

The news was first reported by Chris Solari of the Detroit Free Press. Solari also noted that the transition for Beekman had been in the works since July. Beekman will remain at the athletic director post in the interim, as MSU conducts a national search for his replacement. Beekman is then expected to move into his new role this fall.

“I have been honored to serve as athletic director at Michigan State, and I thank the Board of Trustees and our administration for this opportunity,” Beekman said, via press release. “While we’ve experienced the most challenging 18 months in the history of college athletics, we’ve pushed forward on many fronts, laying the groundwork for the future. Great things are ahead for Michigan State athletics. I’m also excited for this new role in the administrative team as the vice president for strategic initiatives, working with President Stanley to drive our great university forward.”

Beekman, a Michigan State alumnus, was named interim vice president and athletic director in February 2018, then was permanently appointed to that role in July of the same year. He has worked for MSU since 1995.

Before his role as athletic director, Beekman was named vice president and secretary of the Board of Trustees in 2008. Prior to that, 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. Beekman also served as MSU’s acting president in January 2018.

“Bill stepped in to help our athletic department during a time of turmoil and change, and we thank him for that,” Stanley said. “That department is in a better place now and ready to look for long-term leadership to propel us to a new, nationally leading level. With his skills and extensive institutional knowledge, I feel Bill is an ideal fit for this new strategic initiatives role.”

According to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, the Michigan State athletic director opening is expected to get a lot of interest. Michigan State noted in the press release it had already “secured” a national search firm. With that said, a name to keep in mind is Alan Haller, who currently serves as assistant vice president and deputy athletic director for MSU.

During Beekman’s tenure as athletic director, which was severely complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, Michigan State earned seven Big Ten Championships, including three in men’s basketball (2018, 2019 and 2020), two in women’s golf (2018 and 2021) and two in women’s cross country (2019 and 2021). Spartan teams also finished in the top-four nationally on three separate occasions: including a College Cup berth by the men’s soccer program in 2018, a Final Four appearance by men’s basketball in 2019 and a fourth-place finish by the women’s cross country at the NCAA Championships in 2021.

Beekman also saw a lot of success from the student-athletes in the classroom. Under Beekman’s leadership, Spartan student-athletes posted the highest cumulative GPA in athletic department history with a mark of 3.3051 in the spring 2021 semester. In addition, a record-tying 20 teams posted a 3.0 or higher cumulative GPA in spring 2021 and an all-time high 545 student-athletes finished the spring 2021 semester with a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher.

In terms of fundraising, Beekman’s helped the MSU athletic department secure the largest single cash commitment from an individual in the history of the university when former men’s basketball player Mat Ishbia committed $32 million in February 2021.

Beekman hired four head coaches during his tenure, including rowing head coach Kim Chavers in 2019, football head coach Mel Tucker in February 2020, director of cross country and track and field Lisa Breznau in May and women’s soccer coach Jeff Hosler this past June. He also hired the department’s first chief diversity officer, Ashley Baker, in 2020 and implemented a mid-career leadership development program focused on advancing the careers of women and people of color.

Due to COVID-19, Beekman and the university also had to make difficult and unpopular decisions, such as eliminating MSU’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs last October.

Beekman’s appointment to his new position is subject to the approval from the Board of Trustees.