Becker named GVSU athletic director

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Keri Becker is named the sixth Grand Valley State Director of Athletics on Thursday, April 7, 2016 inside of the Fieldhouse Arena.

Kevin Sielaff

GVL / Kevin Sielaff – Keri Becker is named the sixth Grand Valley State Director of Athletics on Thursday, April 7, 2016 inside of the Fieldhouse Arena.

A.A. Knorr

Raised up on a podium in front of Grand Valley State coaches, players, other athletic personnel and a host of media, Keri Becker was named the sixth GVSU athletic director in program history.

Becker, the GVSU associate athletic director since 2011, was selected from a finalist pool of four candidates, which also included Steve Brockelbank (Miami University), Josh Moon (Northern State University) and Heather Weems (St. Cloud State University).

“It became clear that (Becker) understood the mission and vision of Grand Valley, maybe that was easier from the inside,” said Jim Bachmeier, GVSU’s vice president of finance and administration, who had the final call on the hiring. “She has a real depth of understanding of how important student athletics is as a student experience. I think she’s going to watch out for our athletics well-being.”

Becker will replace Selgo, GVSU’s athletic director since 1996, effective July 18. Selgo is the longest-serving athletic director in program history, and Becker is the first woman to be hired into the position at GVSU.

“The strongest sense is a sense of not relief, but calmness,” Becker said. “There’s a calmness that’s going to come over me as now we can move forward. The process is behind me, it’s behind everybody, because this whole process has affected our entire athletic department with the anticipation and maybe some anxieties.”

GVSU athletics are widely recognized as some of the most successful in Division II, as the Lakers have won 19 team NCAA Division II National Championships since 2002, and have clinched a record 10 Learfield Sports/NACDA Directors’ Cups, which are awarded annually to the top sports in Division II.

Prior to coming to GVSU in an administrative position, Becker served as the head softball coach at Ferris State from 1996-2011. She acknowledges that there is an expectation to keep up GVSU’s storied athletic history, but isn’t unsettled by it.

“Daunting, no. The words intimidation, fear, never came into my vocabulary,” Becker said. “If they did, I wouldn’t be in a position to apply for this job. Again, you have to look at a challenge as something that ignites your fire. If you look at is as something that you worry about, which is such a useless emotion, that’s not going to allow you to make great decisions, you’re always going to be back on your heels.

“I believe this athletic department deserves more than that.”

Bachmeier and GVSU used Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, a search firm, to help GVSU create a pool of candidates. Once GVSU got the pool down to four candidates, all four came for day-long campus visits near the end of March.

Despite staying in-house with the hiring, Bachmeier still believes using Turnkey was the correct choice.

“They are a wonderful search firm,” he said. “They came on campus, they spent two days asking what is it that you folks are looking for… After they really understood who and what we are, and what we’re looking for, then they started contacting candidates. They started contacting candidates to the pool that would not have otherwise come.”

Selgo, GVSU’s athletic director for two decades, oversaw some of the most successful years in Laker sports. The most recent and significant success was arguably the 2015-16 Final Four run for the Laker women’s basketball team.

Fitting that Becker’s hiring was announced in the upper lobby of the Fieldhouse Arena, directly adjacent to the GVSU basketball court, where one of Selgo’s final stamps on the program played all season.