Thoughts On Michigan State's New AD, Bill Beekman

Thoughts On Michigan State's New AD, Bill Beekman

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Thoughts On Michigan State's New AD, Bill Beekman

With the announcement of Bill Beekman becoming Michigan State’s permanent athletic director coming on Monday, the university’s athletic department starts a new era – and that’s a good thing.

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Bill Beekman probably isn’t ever going to be confused with P.T. Barnum.

And he might not currently be talking with everyone about how he’s envisioning a Michigan State football game against the University of Moscow to be played on a space station that’s orbiting Neptune.

He also might not be pondering the next branding change for Michigan State – one full of new font styles for uniforms, new logos, and new mottos.

And here’s the thing that should make all Spartans comfortable – and confident – with interim president John Engler’s decision to name Beekman as the university’s permanent athletic director –

None of that is what’s needed now.

All Spartans will forever owe a debt of gratitude to Mark Hollis for the transformational approach he took to marketing the Michigan State brand, for having grand visions that inserted Michigan State into the upper echelons of America’s college sports landscape, and for always recognizing that part of being a Spartan means working and reaching for things that can help the university continue to grow since it cannot ever rest on its laurels.

However, and it must be said even if it’s hard to say, it’s fair to wonder if Hollis might have been unintentionally compromising the school’s integrity by overlooking some of the more mundane elements of the school’s athletic department.

Nobody really wants to spend their days and nights pouring over documentation related to compliance.

It’s more fun and interesting to market the way the basketball team is going to compete against North Carolina on an aircraft carrier than it is talking about how the school is committing itself to internal accountability and better reporting structures that prevent unspeakable crimes to be committed over a twenty year period to ever happen again.

For all of Mark Hollis’s indisputable victories, his legacy also includes the oversight of an athletic department that allowed Larry Nassar to prey on Michigan State student athletes.

And so, it is, perhaps, time for an era in which the fundamentals related to an athletic department are prioritized over the marketable initiatives that helped make Michigan State a brand name of high regard.

And it stands to reason that a career-long Michigan State University administrator like Beekman may be just the guy to know that it might be okay to take the gas off the pedal when it comes to circus-like vision and emphasize the very basics that make any department of any kind accountable, collaborative, and truly successful within the hallways of the university and not just on the front pages of the papers.

Among many other things he’s done throughout his many years at Michigan State, Beekman spent the years from 1998 until 2004 as Michigan State’s assistant dean for finance and planning in the College of Human Medicine.  Beekman has also taught in Michigan State’s College of Law.

Also included in his job titles over the years are Senior Consultant to the Provost and Vice President for Finance and Operations.

Beekman obtained a degree from Michigan State in justice, morality, and constitutional democracy from Michigan State’s renowned James Madison College.

Beekman also earned an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University as well as a law degree from Wayne State Law School.

Bill Beekman might not ever be the guy with the lampshade on his head at the after party – but maybe Michigan State could benefit from a bookish, meticulous, and even fastidious administrator considering that the holes in the athletic department’s infrastructure have proven to be the size of the holes the Spartans will be paving for LJ Scott this Fall.

There are already screams and yells from well-intentioned Spartans who are questioning why an internal administrator who may symbolize part of the problems that led to the crisis the school has created for itself be chosen to lead the athletic department.

While those positions may have merit, if one takes a close look at Beekman’s pedigree and specific resume within Michigan State, one can see a person who may actually be perfectly suited for the job.

The awareness of the culture and the view from his position within the school may give him the perfect perspective that an otherwise “new” person may not have.

His ties to the Michigan State’s Board of Trustees will be watched closely here.

From this perspective, the Michigan State Board of Trustees can lay claim to most of the dysfunction that has caused the university problems for as long as anyone can remember.

It must be the hope that Michigan State has, in Beekman, an athletic director who is going to put his head down and dig in on the books, the paperwork, the NCAA reporting necessities, the communication efficiencies that are needed, the daily and weekly and monthly meetings that must establish accountability and safeguards, and the small things that might not be a whole lot of fun but are essential when it comes to leadership.

The good thing is that events such as the Basketbowl at Ford Field or the basketball game on the aircraft carrier have already accomplished the intended objectives.  A game played on Mars isn’t needed at this point.

Furthermore, the Multimedia Rights Sales & Marketing partnership with Fox is secure and will prove to deliver major gains for Michigan State for years to come.

And the successes of Michigan State’s two main revenue-generating sports speak for themselves.

Bill Beekman needs to make sure the ship doesn’t have leaks.

He also needs to make sure all of the folks on the ship are accounted for and that they are safe, secure, and enjoying the ride.

Perhaps in the not-too-distant future, Beekman will hold an exciting press conference announcing that the Spartans will kick off a football season by playing the University of Kiev at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro.

But, for right now, I think I can speak for all Spartans when I say that the only press conferences anyone is interested in paying close attention to are the ones in which Spartan head coaches are discussing titanic victories and chronicling the ways in which the student athletes are benefitting from the wonderful experience everyone knows Michigan State offers.

 

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