Alan Haller, women candidates touted as MSU athletic director search continues

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — It’s been two weeks since Bill Beekman announced he was stepping down as Michigan State’s athletic director. Since then, there has been little more than speculation as to who might succeed Beekman.

Senior Associate AD Alan Haller greets former MSU standout and former teammate Andre Rison, left.

The campaigning has continued as more support rolled in Friday for an internal candidate while an outside group has made a push for Michigan State to hire a woman.

On Friday morning, a group of former Spartan football players — this time a large contingent from Duffy Daugherty’s 1965 and 1966 national championship teams — gave their endorsement for Alan Haller, currently Michigan State’s Assistant Vice President/Deputy Athletic Director.

Led by College Football Hall of Fame running back Clinton Jones and quarterback Jimmy Raye, a member of the MSU Hall of Fame, the players expressed their support for Haller to become Michigan State’s 20th athletic director.

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“Alan is a successful, driven individual and his character and integrity are beyond reproach,” Raye said. “All through my personal experience and exposure with Alan, I found him to be relevant, innovative and a highly committed individual. His core values exhibit success — smart, tough, competitive, selfless and hard working. He has demonstrated these qualities every step of his tenure thus far

“It is my sincere belief that the future of Michigan State athletics will be in extremely capable and committed hands. That’s why I and my fellow teammates are endorsing Alan Haller as director of athletics for Michigan State University.”

The video, which was posted on YouTube, comes just less than two weeks after another video of former players endorsed Haller. That video had 30 former players from multiple eras, including as recent as running back Gerald Holmes, who won a Big Ten championship and played in the College Football Playoffs during his tenure from 2013-17.

Haller, a graduate of Lansing Sexton, has long been a part of Michigan State athletics, beginning with his days as a player under George Perles from 1988-91. He played in the NFL for four seasons before beginning a 13-year career with the MSU Police Department. During that time, he was part of the search committee that ultimately hired Mark Dantonio, who won three Big Ten championships and took the Spartans to the College Football Playoffs during his tenure.

In 2010, Haller officially joined the athletic department as an associate athletic director before a promotion in 2015 to senior associate athletic director. He became chief of staff in 2017 and also led the move of the Spartans’ Varsity ‘S’ Club from a volunteer group to part of the athletic department.

Haller was promoted to his current position — essentially the No. 2 to Beekman — in 2019 and was at the forefront of the search committee that brought Mel Tucker to MSU to succeed Dantonio.

“We feel, in our hearts, that he deserves the opportunity,” Jones said in the video. “He’s more than qualified … We’re coming out of the ashes and creating a new era, a new Spartan legacy, and that’s why we’re here today.”

Michigan State officials did not respond Friday when asked for where President Samuel Stanley stands in his search for Beekman’s replacement.

While the former players were endorsing Haller, the Women’s Sports Foundation was making its own push for who should be hired.

In a letter sent to Stanley and the Board of Trustees on Thursday, the foundation, which was formed by Billie Jean King in 1974, urged Michigan State to consider hiring a woman.

“As you conduct the search for your next athletic director, we strongly encourage you to hire a woman, especially a BIPOC woman, for this prestigious leadership position,” the letter stated. “We urge you to seize this opportunity to proactively recruit a diverse pool of qualified candidates and to conduct a fair and transparent search process.

“MSU has been at the center of many public conversations regarding concerns around gender equity and treatment of women student-athletes. Hiring a diverse candidate for this position will help signal that MSU is willing to change from within and to create a more diverse and inclusive culture.”

Several women have been listed as potential candidates including Pittsburgh AD Heather Lyke and Ball State AD Beth Goetz.

Lyke was reportedly interested in the job before Beekman was hired in 2018. She was a longtime member of the athletic department at Ohio State and served as Eastern Michigan’s athletic director from 2013-17 before taking over at Pitt. A former softball player at Michigan, Lyke is highly respected and in 2021 was named by the Sports Business Journal as one of five nominees for 2021 Division I Athletic Director of the Year.

Goetz was reportedly a finalist for the Wisconsin AD job, that ultimately went to Chris McIntosh. Goetz, who played and coached soccer at the collegiate level and has been praised for working with a smaller budget at Ball State, was also a deputy athletic director at Minnesota.

Twitter: @mattcharboneau