MSU set to name Alan Haller athletic director on Wednesday

Michigan State University is poised to name Alan Haller as its 20th athletic director during a special meeting of the Board of Trustees at noon on Wednesday, sources said.

Haller, currently MSU's deputy athletic director since 2019, prevailed over two other candidates in recent interviews due to his holistic perspective of the athletic department that includes women's sports and non-revenue sports, said one source close to the process.

Alan Haller

"He has a vision for MSU," the source said.

The leadership of Michigan State’s athletic department had been stable for almost a decade under Mark Hollis, who was at the department's helm for 10 years but stepped down in February 2018 in the midst of the Larry Nassar scandal that also led to the resignation of then-President Lou Anna K. Simon.

An MSU graduate and a member of the athletic department since 1995, Hollis was named the university’s 18th athletic director in 2008. He helped lead the department during an unprecedented run of success that included four Final Four appearances for the men’s basketball team as well as three Big Ten titles and a spot for the Spartans in the College Football Playoffs in 2015.

Following Hollis' departure, former MSU interim President John Engler appointed Bill Beekman as interim athletic director. Beekman was then named permanently to the post in July 2018.

It was the first time Beekman served in athletic administration. He had been the vice president and secretary of the Board of Trustees since 2008 after serving in various roles at his alma mater since 1995, including executive director of the MSU Alumni Association, senior adviser to the provost and assistant dean for finance in the College of Human Medicine.

Haller, 51, a Lansing native, has long been a part of Michigan State athletics, beginning with his days as a defensive back, playing for coach George Perles from 1988-91. He earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors as a junior and senior and was selected in the fifth round of the 1992 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Haller played three seasons in the NFL before embarking a career in law enforcement, working for the MSU Police Department for 13 years.

With a bachelor's degree in criminal justice and a master's degree in human resources from Central Michigan, Haller joined the MSU athletic department in 2010 as associate athletics director for administration. In 2015, he was promoted to senior associate athletic director, and added chief of staff to his title in 2017 before ascending to his current position in 2019 as Beekman's No. 2 in the department.

There will be plenty of challenges for Haller in his new post as the athletic department continues to grapple with the effects of COVID-19. According to Beekman, MSU athletics is operating at a deficit of $30 million. Haller also jumps directly into a sticky situation regarding the men's and women's swimming and diving teams.

Beekman made the decision in October of last year to eliminate both programs, however groups have continued to push to save the teams. In May, Beekman said he was open to meeting with representatives from the group "Battle for Michigan State Swimming and Diving" to discuss ways to save the program.

By mid-July, those meetings, however, hadn't taken place and it's unclear if they ever did. What direction Haller will take is unclear, but the group will surely be looking for answers.

Haller's contract details were not available. Beekman signed a five-year deal in 2018 that paid him $750,000 annually, though that amount will drop down to $375,000 in the new role he will be assuming in the President's office.

Michigan State President Samuel Stanley issued a statement Tuesday. 

"Many of us eagerly anticipate the start of the Spartan football season this Friday at Northwestern as well as many other fall sports," the statement read. "There’s a change at the top coming this fall as well, as Bill Beekman, vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics, will be taking on a new role as vice president for strategic initiatives. I’m grateful for Bill’s work stabilizing and advancing our athletic department over the past three-plus years, and I look forward to working with him in this new role. We secured a national firm to lead the search for a new athletic director and expect to make an announcement soon."