Former football player Alan Haller named Michigan State's 20th athletic director

·4 min read

Alan Haller never went too far from home.

The Lansing native and Michigan State alum returned to campus after a few years in the NFL to become a police officer, then moved into the athletic department. He now faces an even bigger and broader task: running all of the Spartans' sports and pulling his alma mater’s athletic department out of debt.

MSU named Haller its 20th athletic director during a special Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday. Haller, 50, beat out current Auburn athletic director Allen Greene following interviews over the weekend, sources told the Free Press on Monday, after university president Samuel Stanley commissioned a national search to replace Bill Beekman.

Former NFL and MSU football player Alan Haller gets a hug as he's given a special award from the MSU Black Alumni Association during the Lansing Sports Hall of Fame banquet Thursday, July 28, 2016 at the Lansing Center. Haller was a four year letter winner in football at MSU and went on to play professionally for the Steelers, Brown and Panthers. He graduated from Sexton where he played football and was a member of the 1986 and 1987 state championship track teams.
Former NFL and MSU football player Alan Haller gets a hug as he's given a special award from the MSU Black Alumni Association during the Lansing Sports Hall of Fame banquet Thursday, July 28, 2016 at the Lansing Center. Haller was a four year letter winner in football at MSU and went on to play professionally for the Steelers, Brown and Panthers. He graduated from Sexton where he played football and was a member of the 1986 and 1987 state championship track teams.

Haller's hiring comes on the first day of classes at MSU and two days before the Spartans' football team kicks off the season at Northwestern.

Beekman announced his resignation as athletic director Aug. 4. The 54-year-old Okemos native is moving into a new role as vice president for strategic initiatives under Stanley, who hired College Sports Associates to conduct a national search and help identify candidates.

That process provided some tension internally, but the university leaders ultimately picked Haller, whose only time away from the greater Lansing area came when he played professionally in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Carolina from 1992-95.

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Haller graduated from J.W. Sexton High in Lansing and went on to play football for the Spartans and coach George Perles from 1988-91 and then in the NFL from 1992-95. He spent 13 years in the MSU Police Department starting in July 1997 after retiring from football, eventually rising to the rank of lieutenant, before joining the athletic department in July 2010.

Haller began as associate athletic director, then was promoted to senior associate athletic director in 2015 and added chief of staff to his title in 2017. Beekman promoted him to his second-in-command as deputy athletic director in 2019.

Having earned a criminal justice degree from MSU and his master’s degree in human resources from Central Michigan, Haller was part of the past two football coaching search committees that produced Mark Dantonio in late 2006 and Mel Tucker in February.

In recent years, Haller became a point person for MSU’s developing athletic department facilities master plan and visited a number of schools – in 2019, he, Beekman, Dantonio other staff members and donors visited Clemson’s $55 million renovated facility. Then in December, Haller revealed initial plans and blueprints to athletic department staff showing potential significant facilities upgrades that could change the center of campus and cost tens of millions of dollars if it goes through as designed.

Haller’s candidacy to replace Beekman got support from a number of prominent athletic alumni over the past month, including video testimonials from former football players and members of the 1965 and 1966 national championship teams, as well as former basketball star Shawn Respert.

It won’t be an easy beginning for Haller coming out of the pandemic. Beekman said MSU’s athletic department is projected to be operating at a $30 million deficit this fall, despite cutting $50 million during the 2020-21 school year. Beekman also eliminated the school’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs after last season.

Financial terms for Haller’s hiring were not immediately known. Beekman’s contract as athletic director was for $750,000 and runs through 2023, but it contained a provision that would allow him to be reassigned as to a different role within the university at $375,000 a year for the remainder of his five-year contract.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

Michigan State athletics directors

Charles Bemies: 1899-1900

George Denham: 1901-1902

Chester Brewer: 1903-1910, 1917, 1919-1921

John Macklin: 1911-1915

George Gauthier: 1916, 1918

Albert Barron: 1922

Ralph Young: 1923-54

Clarence "Biggie" Munn: 1954-1972

J. Burt Smith: 1972-1975

John D. Shingleton: 1975-76

Joe Kearney: 1976-1980

Doug Weaver: 1980-1990

George Perles: 1990-1992

Merrily Dean Baker: 1992-1995

Merritt Norvell: 1995-1999

Clarence Underwood: 1999-2002

Ron Mason: 2002-2007

Mark Hollis: 2007-Jan. 26, 2018

Bill Beekman: Feb. 5, 2018 (interim), July 16, 2018-Aug. 4, 2021 (permanent), Aug. 5-31 (interim)

Alan Haller: Sept. 1, 2021

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Alan Haller named Michigan State's 20th athletic director