Michigan state athletic director Bill Beekman steps down after 3 years

Michigan State Athletic Director Bill Beekman came out as the Spartans’ AD after just 3 years. Beekman, however, will remain on the staff of the State of Michigan. President Samuel stanley announced that Beekman will assume the role of vice president for strategic initiatives.

Speaking on his decision to step down, Beekman said, “I have been honored to serve as the Michigan State athletic director, and I thank the board and our administration for this opportunity.” He went on to say that “great things are to come for Michigan state athletics,” adding that he was “excited” to begin his new role in administration.

With Beekman’s departure as athletic director, Michigan State will be hiring its 3rd AD for the past 3.5 years this fall. Beekman took over from AD during a tumultuous time for Michigan State Athletics. He was first appointed interim sports director in February 2018, after former AD, Mark Hollis, and former chairman, Lou Anna K. Simon, resigned in the middle of the Larry nassar scandal. Beekman was officially named Hollis’ successor in July 2018, after 5 months of interim service.

The resolution of the Nassar abuse scandal cost the state of Michigan $ 500 million, straining the sports department’s bottom line, and will continue to do so for years to come. This financial burden of the settlement was then compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted universities to shut down in-person operations. This meant that MSU, like all other universities, did not derive as much revenue from the 2020-2021 football and basketball seasons as it normally does.

Beekman, who is reportedly facing a budget deficit of $ 30 million for the year 2020-2021, then made the controversial decision to eliminate the Michigan state’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs. when the move was announced, Beekman said in a letter “[It’s] a very sad day for me personally, obviously for all of them and their coaches and for Spartan athletics. He then added “But I think in the end the right decision for Spartan athletics.”

The elimination of swimming and diving programs prompted a group of current and former MSU swimmers and divers to come together and create Battle For MSU Swim and Dive. The group has launched fundraising efforts as well as a campaign to pressure the university to reinstate the programs. Battle For MSU Swim and Dive has developed strong support within the swimming and diving community.

Former Belgian Olympic swimmer Sidney Appelboom, who was a member and captain of the Michigan State Men’s Swim and Diving Team in the late 1980s, recently posted on Twitter a photo of himself and Rowdy Gaines support MSU swimming and diving at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Battle For MSU Swim and Dive had secured a meeting with Beekman in May this year to discuss the elimination of the programs and all avenues available to save the programs. However, the meeting would ultimately never have taken place.

Battle For MSU Swim and Dive released a statement following the announcement of Beekman’s resignation. Here is the full group statement, as reported by Matt Charboneau of the Detroit News:

“The Battle for Spartan Swimming and Diving is optimistic about the future of Michigan state track and field following today’s announcement and looks forward to working with the new athletic director. With our biggest hurdle lifted, we are more committed than ever to bringing the swim and diving program back to its 100th season. We will continue to educate MSU leaders on the value of reintegrating the two teams and how our proposed solutions will not only save and maintain swimming and diving, but also provide a model to support all Olympic sports from Spartan to the to come up.

It’s a good day for Michigan State Track and Field, and we look forward to a future focused on building and growing, starting with MSU swimming and diving.

In at least one other instance, at William & Mary’s, the resignation of the athletic director who cut the school’s swimming and diving programs was followed by the reinstatement of those programs.

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