Michigan State Athletic Director Bill Beekman Resigns After 3 Years

by Spencer Penland 15

August 09th, 2021 News

Michigan State Athletic Director Bill Beekman is out as the Spartans’ A.D. after just 3 years. Beekman will be remaining on staff at Michigan State, however. President Samuel Stanley announced Beekman will be assuming the role of vice president for strategic initiatives.

Speaking on his decision to step down, Beekman said “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.” He went on to say that “Great things are ahead for Michigan State athletics,” adding that he’s “excited” to begin his new role in the administration.

With the departure of Beekman from the Athletic Director role, Michigan State will be hiring its 3rd A.D. in the last 3.5 years this fall. Beekman took over as the A.D. during a tumultuous time for Michigan State Athletics. He originally was named interim Athletics Director in February of 2018, after the former A.D., Mark Hollis, and the former President, Lou Anna K. Simon, resigned amidst the Larry Nassar scandal. Beekman was officially named Hollis’ successor in July of 2018, after 5 months of serving in the interim capacity.

The settlement in the Nassar abuse scandal cost Michigan State $500 million, which has put a massive strain on the Athletic Department’s bottom line, and will continue to do so for years to come. That financial burden from the settlement was then compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused universities to shutdown in-person activities. This meant that MSU, like every other university, didn’t pull in nearly as much revenue from the 2020-2021 football and basketball seasons as they normally do.

Beekman, reportedly facing a budget deficit of $30 million for the 2020-2021 year, then made the controversial decision to eliminate 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 at the end of the day, the right decision for Spartan athletics.”

The elimination of the swimming & diving programs spurred a group current and former MSU swimmers and divers to come together and create Battle For MSU Swim and Dive. The group has launched fundraising efforts and as well as a campaign to put public pressure on the university in an effort to reinstate the programs. Battle For MSU Swim and Dive has cultivated significant support within the swimming & diving community.

Former Belgian Olympic swimmer Sidney Appelboom, who was a member and captain of the Michigan State men’s swimming & diving team in the late 80s, recently posted a picture on Twitter of himself and Rowdy Gaines supporting MSU swim & dive at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Battle For MSU Swim and Dive had secured a meeting with Beekman in May of this year to discuss the elimination of the programs, and any available avenues to save the programs. However, the meeting reportedly never ended up taking place.

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

“The Battle for Spartan Swimming and Diving is optimistic about the future of Michigan State athletics after today’s announcement and looks forward to working with the incoming athletic director. With our biggest obstacle removed, we are more committed than ever to bring back the swimming and diving program for its 100th season. We will continue to impress upon MSU’s leaders the value of reinstating both teams, and how our proposed solutions will not only save and sustain swimming and diving, but also provide a model for supporting all Spartan Olympic sports into the future.

This is a good day for Michigan State athletics, and we are eager for a future focused on building and growing — starting with MSU swimming and diving.”

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

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Jennifer Parks ("JP")
2 years ago

As a former Head Coach of Women’s Swimming, for 14 years, 73-88, minus one year to work on a Ph.D.at that other school, I feel that Swimming&Diving has been on the “cut” list for a long time. Former Pres. Simon told me that S&D “didn’t fit the demographics of SE Michigan,” the population center of the state; former AD Hollis was supportive of S&D. The Recreation Dept., in charge of 50 mtr. outdoor pool did not repair it as needed, even before the Nasser affair. Since that, and the Pandemic, funding at MSU is slow, so they made a perfunctory cut, and chose S&D, based on a stereotype by the former Pres.,and moved a non-Athletic Director, over to do the… Read more »

Anthony Higgins MSU Swimming 88-91
2 years ago

How much is the deficit that swimming and diving needs to make up to carry the program for the next 1-3 years?

Gail Dummer
2 years ago

I will never understand how cutting swimming and diving was supposed to make a significant dent in the athletic department budget shortfall. The math does not add up.

Reply to  Gail Dummer
2 years ago

In many cases it can be a financial lose to cut swimming and diving looking at revenue from tuition for the part not covered by scholarships (ex. 30 swimmers/divers minus 10 scholarships) that is 20 students paying tuition. I know the math is not that simple, but…

Reply to  Dan
2 years ago

This is exactly correct. Plus they lose some NCAA funding. An Eastern Michigan finance prof showed how cutting men’s swim at EMU lost money for the school.

Reply to  Dan
2 years ago

As much as I want swimming saved, the “loss in tuition” argument for a school of 40,000 is dubious at best. This absolutely is something worth considering at smaller universities (especially private), but not large, state universities.

Reply to  Coach
2 years ago

Yep. If a university of 40,000 is concerned about losing 20 tuition paying students, they can very easily just accept 20 new students into the next class.

Reply to  Coach
2 years ago

Agree. You will get the “but swimmers are great students with good GPA’s” in response which I understand is generally true, but it’s a drop in the bucket.

2 years ago

Iowa’s Barta next hopefully…

DP Spellman
Reply to  B1Gfan
2 years ago

We can only hope!

On the banks of the red cedar
2 years ago

This is an awesome first step! Hopefully the new AD will be smart enough to bring back the teams and use some of the 32 million dollars gift the department received to start the conversation of a brand new facility and bring in a new coaching staff. I believe part of the reason the swim team was cut was due to years and years of being the floor mat of the big ten. A new pool and coaching staff would definitely put MSU into the top half of the conference!

Reply to  On the banks of the red cedar
2 years ago

I have missed or forgotten the news about the $32 million gift, was that supposed to be for athletics in general or some specific area?

Reply to  On the banks of the red cedar
2 years ago

That article outlines the breakdown of where that $32 million goes and it ain’t for a pool. MAYBE they could squeeze some money out of the $8 million marked in general athletic funds, but doubtful any of that is going to be spend in one spot, let alone a pool. And definitely not enough for a Big Ten worthy pool

Reply to  coachofficialmi
2 years ago

Interestingly, the athletic department would not really be responsible for the funds to build a new pool. That goes through the university itself and a new recreation fee is on the horizon if not already approved. That will help fund a new recreation center which would include a pool. So…….