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.
One of the nicest swimming personalities and great ambassador of our sport mr @RowdyGaines, supports the cause to reinstate the Michigan State University swimprogram. A 100yr old program! Thanks Rowdy. @Tokio2020 @MSU_Basketball @battleformsu pic.twitter.com/jvTK17b5bc
— Sidney Appelboom (@SidneyAppelboom) July 28, 2021
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.