Interim university president John Engler will announce Michigan State veteran administrator and Spartan alum Bill Beekman as the school’s permanent athletic director on Monday.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with the decisions and moves that have been made by Michigan State University’s interim president, John Engler, it would be hard to challenge the notion that Egler, himself a proud Spartan alum, is acting with efficiency and clarity.
On Monday, according to a report published by the Detroit Free Press (below), Engler will announce that 1989 Michigan State University graduate and current interim athletic director Bill Beekman will be named the school’s permanent athletic director.
While Engler has drawn criticism from many Spartan circles, we’ve recognized the way in which he’s been appropriately bold and determined in his efforts to reshape a university that has been on the verge of an existential crisis ever since the news of Larry Nassar’s sexual assault crimes became known to the Spartan community and the nation.
The expedient way in which Engler reached a settlement with the survivors of Nassar’s despicable crimes demonstrated his determination in finding the best possible solution for the survivors while simultaneously making a clear statement that Michigan State was going to learn from its mistakes, establish itself as an owner of its own failures, and chart a path forward that included self-awareness and progressive ambition for the future.
In naming Beekman the permanent athletic director, Engler is accomplishing two important things at once –
- Bill Beekman knows the Michigan State University culture, terrain, tradition, challenges, potentials, history, personalities, dysfunction, successes, ups, downs, and everything in between so as to allow the athletic department to maintain elements of stability that are necessary.
- While a member of the Michigan State University administration, Bill Beekman has spent most of his time outside of the athletic department and will bring a fresh perspective, a fresh energy, a fresh clarity, a fresh sense of accountability, a fresh vision, and a fresh determination so as to allow the athletic department to improve and grow and become a transformative leader for all other athletic departments to emulate. In short, Beekman is not beholden to the ways in which the athletic department has functioned for the past generation.
It’s a very challenging dilemma that Michigan State faces – respecting and honoring its traditions and values while implementing a new, fresh perspective that makes it impossible for the failures that allowed Larry Nassar’s crimes to be repeated ever again.
And, above all else, the new athletic director must have a passionate understanding of and appreciation for the prioritization of the entire experience for all Spartan student athletes.
A new athletic director with zero association to Michigan State’s culture would have a challenging time getting up to speed – and Michigan State can’t afford to have an athletic director who is spending much of his or her time finding out where the Breslin Center is and what the words to “MSU Shadows” are.
At the same time, a new athletic director has to have an independent vision and the courage to break trends that might have been deterrents and may have even caused communication bottlenecks that indirectly led to the failures that have made us all heartsick.
Here’s what isn’t up for debate – Michigan State needs Bill Beekman to succeed.
One of the reasons why Michigan State has experienced one of the greatest runs of athletic success in the history of the university over the last decade-plus is that there was harmony among the leadership personalities related to the goals and direction of the programs themselves.
Mark Dantonio and Tom Izzo have both said many times that their successes have had as much to do with the support and collaboration from the university and athletic department leaders as anything else.
For Bill Beekman, that same support, collaboration, cooperation, and harmony must manifest itself for the good of the student athletes, the coaches, the fans, and, of course, for the good of the university itself.
Only time will tell if Bill Beekman can step in and bring the right sense of organization, vision, accountability, motivation, communication, strategic perspective, and, most importantly leadership to Michigan State athletics.
But it’s a good sign that the university is moving strategically, efficiently, and compassionately to chart a path to the future that appears to be looking brighter.
We’re pulling for you, Beekman.
Right now, we’re confident that your own Spartan Pride will lead to all of us walking tall, proud of a recovery from all that’s happened and once again proud of a school that is home for us.
Michigan State to name Beekman permanent athletic director on Monday
Beekman has been the interim athletic director since Mark Hollis stepped aside hours before ESPN ran a story questioning the behavior of the department when it comes to sexual assault.
Attempts to contact MSU were unsuccessful on Friday night.
Beekman has been vice president and secretary of the MSU Board of Trustees since 2008 and previously served as executive director of the MSU Alumni Association. According to his university bio and LinkedIn pages, the 1989 MSU graduate was hired by his alma mater in 1995 as an administrator with the MSU HealthTeam and served as assistant dean for finance and planning in the College of Human Medicine from 1998-2004. He also has served as a senior consultant to the provost and the vice president for finance and operations.
Engler named Beekman as the interim AD a week after taking office.
“Just as the Board of Trustees had confidence in Bill to keep things moving as acting president, I have confidence that he will provide very capable leadership of the athletic department during this time of transition,” Engler said in a February release.
At the time, Engler said a national search will begin shortly for a permanent athletic director and that no internal candidates from MSU will be considered.
MSU has not made Beekman available to reporters during his approximately three-month tenure as interim athletic director. He did speak briefly in February after a trustees meeting, though it was not an organized media event.
Despite being an interim president, Engler has been reshaping the upper levels of MSU’s administration.
He named Bob Young as general counsel, giving him a three-year deal, despite objections by a couple of board members.
The board is currently doing a national search for a new president, but has said it will be at least the end of next school year — in June 2019 — before that person is in place.
Contact David Jesse: 313-222-8851 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @reporterdavidj