Dantonio: Beekman a "Calm, unifying force..."

Dantonio: Beekman a "Calm, unifying force..."

Columnists

Dantonio: Beekman a "Calm, unifying force..."

Michigan State officially announces Bill Beekman as the school’s permanent athletic director.  Mark Dantonio’s comments demonstrate that Beekman’s presence and leadership are what is needed at this time.

Contact @crowleysullivan

Since news broke on Friday that Bill Beekman would be named Michigan State’s permanent athletic director after almost six months of serving in the role on an interim basis following the resignation of Mark Hollis, the shape of Michigan State’s future has begun to come more into focus.

And, not surprisingly, Mark Dantonio’s choice of words following today’s press conference in which Beekman’s permanent appointment was made official, represent the most clear indications of what the future will be like.

The two most important words that were spoken by Dantonio represent precisely what is needed at this moment in Michigan State’s history: “calm” and “unifying.”

Beekman was refreshingly candid in addressing the darkness that he is poised to lead Michigan State out of when he stated flatly that “the last several years have been the darkest” at Michigan State.

The first step for a recovery of any kind is acknowledging the very need for a recovery in the first place.

Michigan State has made tremendous strides on the national stage from the perspective of staging bold, creative, and innovative events while also achieving perhaps the school’s greatest run of sustained success on the fields of play.

But, with the sobriety of time since the horribly damaging crimes of Larry Nassar came to light, it’s fair to think that Michigan State would serve its community well by taking a measured approach with this next, all-important chapter.

And when Mark Dantonio approves of the man in charge, that suggests all Spartans should be more than comfortable with the choice made by interim university president, John Engler.

Some are observing that Beekman may not bring that flair of P.T. Barnum to the job.

Good.

Flair isn’t what’s needed from the leader of an athletic department in need of discipline, a recommitment to integrity, and a recognition of the obvious fact that, above all else, the wellness and safety of the student athletes at Michigan State be the number one priority.

The casual fan doesn’t know – let alone appreciate – that it doesn’t really matter how many banners a coach may have raised in his or her campus arena.  That coach needs to be in lockstep with the rest of the athletic department in order for the entire department to succeed.

And, while the revenue generating sports certainly “carry” the overall athletic department from a financial perspective, it’s the entire department with all of the programs and student athletes together that cultivates and drives the culture within the university and on the campus.

If one program within the department doesn’t see itself as needing to be philosophically and strategically aligned with the other programs, the entire program’s culture suffers.

And that leads to communication gaps, internal dysfunction, and a deterioration of of the integrity within the overall athletic department and the university as a whole.

Despite the obvious way in which the football program and basketball programs are the “big boys” within the athletic department and despite the notion “this is big time collegiate athletics,” every athletic department across all of America’s college campuses actually is, indeed, an egalitarian environment and that requires everyone working together, respecting the overall vision, and staying true to the university’s mission.

That may have a ring of naive idealism to it – but, if the casual fan were to spend meaningful time inside of an athletic department anywhere in the country, they’d quickly see that a university’s athletic department isn’t IBM.

It’s a place where the field hockey coach needs just as much cooperation, respect, and support from the entire athletic department as the basketball coach.

And so Bill Beekman’s initial day as Michigan State’s permanent athletic director gets highlighted by the recognition of Mark Dantonio in the way Dantonio’s choice of words – “calm” and “unifying” – speak directly to the university’s specific needs.

Let’s leave the flair and excitement and drama and concern and fingernail biting and hiding our faces behind our hands to the actual games that are meant to give us all of those feelings.

Let’s let Bill Beekman tend to the essentials of running an athletic department with a calm, steady hand so that all Spartans can once again be proud.

Mark Dantonio: New AD Bill Beekman a ‘unifying force’ for MSU

Michigan State has a new athletic director. However, that person is not new to Michigan State.

Roughly five months after interim president John Engler said a national search to replace former athletic director Mark Hollis would not include internal candidates, interim AD Bill Beekman was named Monday to the permanent post.

In early February, Beekman was named interim AD by Engler, who said then a national search would begin for a new person to oversee Spartan athletics and that “no internal candidates from MSU will be considered.”

Engler, at a news conference on the MSU campus, said all the coaches and MSU Board of Trustees supported the move to name Beekman as the new AD. Engler added the overwhelming amount of positive feedback he received from other Big Ten ADs in addition to MSU coaches made it clear a national search wasn’t necessary.

“When I first appointed Bill I said I had confidence he would provide very capable leadership. Well, Bill has done that and much, much more,” Engler said.

“As we started talking about the search I kept hearing from virtually everyone that they loved the job that Bill was doing, the job that he’s done for five-and-a-half months, on the job here as interim athletic director. The descriptions were marvelous. Bill was described first and foremost as a person with great integrity, very attentive, a terrific listener, someone that really knows the university. I had several people remark about Bill’s calming influence. I didn’t know Bill well before coming to the university in February, I have to say I’m among the many who have been very impressed by Bill.”

Beekman will be formally approved as athletic director by the MSU Trustees on Tuesday.

Monday’s news conference was attended by a number of MSU coaches, including Mark Dantonio (football), Tom Izzo (men’s basketball), Suzy Merchant (women’s basketball) and Danton Cole (hockey).

Hollis stepped down, as did MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon, following hearings that accompanied the conviction of Larry Nassar, who molested hundreds of women during his years as an osteopathic physician at MSU and as team doctor for USA Gymnastics.

“As things unfolded this spring, leadership was sort of thrust on Bill Beekman in a rather unusual way coming from administration,” Dantonio said Monday. “I really believe, though, leadership takes its place in so many different forms and he’s been a unifying force for our entire athletic department since coming on. I found him to be a great listener, but also calm. He has a distinguished presence at this university. … Every step of the way I think he’s seen as a positive.”

Beekman emphasized the “health, safety and wellness of every student-athlete” as a priority and said that hasn’t always been the case. He noted the “last several years have been among the darkest” at MSU.

Beekman, the secretary of the board of trustees, was handed the transitional job as AD in one of Engler’s initial acts after Engler replaced Simon. Engler had sought to distance existing MSU athletics personnel from the AD job, which quashed early plans to have Greg Ianni, a deputy AD, steer the department after Hollis abruptly departed.

“Bill is a tremendous administrator, and what he might lack in flair, you get steady, calming, integrity,” said MSU Trustee Brian Mosallam. “He understands student health and wellness, he understands compliance, he understands OIE (Office of Institutional Equity), understanding all the pieces of this university. I think he’ll do a fine job.”

Before becoming a MSU vice president and board secretary, Beekman was executive director of the MSU Alumni Association.

Beekman is a 1989 graduate of MSU and first joined the university in 1995 as an administrator with the MSU Health Team. He also worked from 1998-2004 as assistant dean for finance and planning in the College of Human Medicine. He was on the same college’s faculty, and has also taught in MSU’s College of Law.

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/mattcharboneau

Latest

More SpartansWire
Home