East Lansing — It didn’t take John Engler long to make his first personnel move as Michigan State’s interim president.
On Monday, the former governor named Bill Beekman Michigan State’s interim athletic director, taking over for Mark Hollis, who announced his retirement on Jan. 26 and spent his last day in office on Jan. 31.
“I am honored to receive this appointment and look forward to this new challenge,” Beekman said in a statement released by the university. “This is obviously a new day at MSU and I am pleased to be part of the changes.”
Beekman has been Michigan State’s vice president and secretary of the Board of Trustees since 2008. After president Lou Anna K. Simon’s resignation on Jan. 24, Beekman served as the acting president before Engler was appointed on Feb. 2. He will remain the vice president and secretary of the Board while serving as interim athletic director.
“Just as the Board of Trustees had confidence in Bill to keep things moving as acting president,” Engler said in a statement, “I have confidence that he will provide very capable leadership of the athletic department during this time of transition.”
The move is an abrupt shift for the Michigan State athletic department, considering Beekman has no experience with athletic administration.
Beekman joined Michigan State in 1995 as an administrator with the MSU HealthTeam. He was the assistant dean for finance and planning in the College of Human Medicine and has taught regularly in the College of Human Medicine and the College of Law. He also served as a senior consultant to the provost and to the vice president for finance and operations.
He holds his undergraduate degree in justice, morality, and constitutional democracy from James Madison College at Michigan State University. He received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and his juris doctor from Wayne State University Law School.
Engler added that a nationwide search will begin shortly for a permanent athletic director, and that no internal candidates will be considered.
That eliminates deputy athletic director Greg Ianni, who was Hollis’ right-hand man the one many believed would be named the interim athletic director. However, by late last week it became clear from sources that nothing was certain in terms of who might be chosen and Engler made it obvious with Monday’s announcement that the department will head in a new direction.
It all comes in the wake of the Larry Nassar sexual assault scandal that helped lead to Simon and Hollis stepping down. Nassar has been convicted on sexual assault and pornography charges. On Monday, he was sentenced to 40-125 years in prison in Eaton County. The sentence is Nassar’s third, and final, for his crimes committed over more than two decades while he was a sports doctor at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics.
Also, a recent ESPN report has cast a cloud over the MSU athletic department. It questioned how complaints of sexual assault and violence toward women has been handled by Michigan State’s two most noteworthy programs — football and men’s basketball — and their coaches, Mark Dantonio and Tom Izzo, respectively.
The university also is dealing with several investigations, including one from attorney general Bill Schuette and one from the NCAA. Michigan State has yet to file its response to the NCAA after receiving a letter of inquiry just days before Hollis announced his retirement.