Michigan State University’s Interim President John Engler announced his appointment of Bill Beekman as the university’s permanent athletic director on Monday morning. Beekman has already been serving in an interim capacity since February.
Engler said he had planned on conducting a national search and hiring from outside the athletic department, but after speaking with coaches and other staff members, decided to keep Beekman on.
“As we started talking about the search, I kept hearing from virtually everyone that they loved the job that Bill’s doing,” Engler said. “Bill was described as, first and foremost, as a person of great integrity, very attentive, a terrific listener, someone who really knows the university. I had several people remark that Bill was a calming influence.”
Beekman had previously served as vice president and secretary of the MSU Board of Trustees, though a statement from MSU says he will step down as secretary because of this appointment. The new athletic director has worked for MSU in various positions since 1995.
Beekman came on as interim athletic director on February 5th. He replaced Mark Hollis, who retired just days after former athletic doctor Larry Nassar was sentences to 40 to 175 years in prison for criminal sexual conduct. Nassar was first hired by MSU in 1997. Of over 300 women and girls who have come forward as victims of Nassar’s abuse, Beekman says over 30 of them were MSU students. Of those 30, several were student athletes.
At Monday’s press conference, Beekman said the success of student athletes was his number one priority.
“That success is not possible unless we can ensure the health, safety, and wellness of every student athlete,” he said, acknowledging the fact that the university has failed on this front in the past.
“We must do better and we will,” Beekman promised.
The athletic director cited “improved and increased training at all levels” and departmental review of “reporting protocols” as some of the steps he has already taken to ensure the safety of student athletes. He also said that the department has “developed polices to ensure the availability of and access to chaperones for our students when they visit medical professionals.” A lack of such strictly enforced chaperone policies is one of the factors that allowed Nassar to get away with his abuse for decades.
Beekman added, however, that “all the rules in the world won’t make a difference unless we have a culture committed to the health, safety, and wellness of every member of our community.”
Beekman's official appointment is pending the approval of the MSU Board of Trustees. The board is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday to “consider” the appointment.