Michigan State University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., announced Bill Beekman, vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics, will be taking on a new role as vice president for strategic initiatives. This is a newly created position to help coordinate MSU’s strategic plan implementation efforts, and Beekman will make the transition this fall.
“Bill stepped in to help our athletic department during a time of turmoil and change, and we thank him for that,” said Stanley. “That department is in a better place now and ready to look for long-term leadership to propel us to a new, nationally leading level. With his skills and extensive institutional knowledge, I feel Bill is an ideal fit for this new strategic initiatives role.”
A national search firm has been secured to lead the search for a new athletic director. The next steps in the search process will be announced soon. In the meantime, Beekman will continue to lead the athletics department until a new athletic director is found and in place.
Beekman was named interim vice president and athletic director in February 2018, then appointed as the permanent leader that July. During his time as athletic director, almost half of which occurred amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Beekman had notable accomplishments both behind the scenes and in the university’s athletic venues.
“I have been honored to serve as athletic director at Michigan State, and I thank the Board of Trustees and our administration for this opportunity,” said Beekman. “While we’ve experienced the most challenging 18 months in the history of college athletics, we’ve pushed forward on many fronts, laying the groundwork for the future. Great things are ahead for Michigan State athletics. I’m also excited for this new role in the administrative team as the vice president for strategic initiatives, working with President Stanley to drive our great university forward.”
During Beekman’s tenure as athletic director, Spartan teams celebrated seven Big Ten Championships: men’s basketball (2018, 2019, 2020); women’s golf (2018, 2021); women’s cross country (2019, 2021); and three top-four national finishes, including a College Cup berth by the men’s soccer program in 2018, a Final Four appearance by men’s basketball in 2019 and a fourth-place showing by women’s cross country at the NCAA Championships in 2021.
Beekman also oversaw significant achievements in academics, facilities, fundraising and student-athlete support. In the classroom, Spartan student-athletes posted the highest cumulative GPA in athletic department history — 3.3051 — in the spring 2021 semester. In addition, a record-tying 20 teams posted a 3.0 or higher cumulative GPA in spring 2021 and an all-time high 545 student-athletes finished the spring 2021 semester with a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher.
Beekman’s accomplishments in fundraising also contributed to the continued success of Spartan athletics, including securing the largest single cash commitment from an individual in the history of MSU when former men’s basketball player Mat Ishbia committed $32 million in February 2021.
Beekman hired four head coaches during his tenure, including football Head Coach Mel Tucker in February 2020 following the retirement of Mark Dantonio. In this past year, Beekman named Lisa Breznau director of cross country and track and field in May and appointed Jeff Hosler women’s soccer coach in June. Beekman’s first head coaching hire was rowing Head Coach Kim Chavers in 2019. He also hired the department’s first chief diversity officer, Ashley Baker, in 2020 and implemented a mid-career leadership development program focused on advancing the careers of women and people of color.
An MSU alumnus, Beekman has served his alma mater since 1995. He was named vice president and secretary of the Board of Trustees in 2008 before transitioning to the athletics department. Previously, he was executive director of the MSU Alumni Association, senior adviser to the provost and assistant dean for finance in the College of Human Medicine. Beekman also served as MSU’s acting president in January 2018.
Beekman earned his Master of Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, his Juris Doctor from Wayne State University Law School and his undergraduate degree in justice, morality and constitutional democracy from James Madison College at MSU.
Beekman’s appointment is subject to approval by the Board of Trustees.