Director of Athletics Thomas Beckett to retire at end of academic year

(Photo by Michael Marsland)

Thomas Beckett, who is in his 24th year serving as director of athletics at Yale, will retire in June 2018, President Peter Salovey has announced.

Tom has completely transformed the department in every way, ensuring its academic priorities, reconstructing its facilities, enhancing its endowments, hiring superb coaches and role models, energizing its teams, enlarging its fan base, and making it, according to Sports Illustrated, number nine in the ‘100 Best Colleges for Sports Lovers’ list,” Salovey said in a letter to the Yale community announcing Beckett's retirement.

As director of athletics, Beckett oversees a staff of 170 people and a department that uses over 2,000 acres of land for athletic activities. The department sponsors 50 club sports with 1,100 participants, hosts an intramural program that includes half of the undergraduate population, and provides physical education and recreation activities for the entire campus.

Building and sustaining an enterprise of this scale requires the collaboration of everyone in the athletics department, members of faculty and staff across the university, and scores of devoted alumni — and Tom’s leadership is vital to this massive, combined effort,” Salovey said.

When he arrived at Yale, there was one endowed head coach position; now there are 23. There were 50 endowed funds; now there are 215. Because of the generosity of devoted alumni and Tom’s vision for Yale Athletics, the university today has $283 million in athletics endowment — a dramatic increase from the $20 million it had in 1994. He has also brought striking changes to facilities. He oversaw the construction or renovation of 20 key facilities,” Salovey added.

Since Beckett began his tenure at Yale, Yale teams have produced 118 championships, 73 first-place Ivy League finishes, and numerous other post-season victories. There have been 43 Olympic athletes and 337 All-Americans during his time on campus. Yale has averaged more than 10 nationally ranked teams each year. In addition, there have been 28 national championships in the sports of men’s hockey, men’s and women’s squash, sailing, and all three rowing programs.

Building community has always been important to Tom,” Salovey said in his letter to the campus community. “I think of him as ‘Yale’s Biggest Fan,’ a distinction he earned by attending almost every home contest, as well as scores of non-athletic university events, and by knowing, by name, almost every one of the 800+ varsity athletes in any year. He built a partnership program to provide Yale students with free admission to most games, and he created events like “Employees Day” for members of our faculty and staff to bring their families to athletic events without charge. His leadership in the community helped create the award-winning Thomas W. Ford ’42 Community Outreach Program that brought youth from the New Haven area to the campus for events such as the National Youth Sports Program and Yale Youth Days.”

In tribute to Beckett, supporters and friends of Yale Athletics joined in creating an endowment to name the Yale director of athletics position the Thomas A. Beckett Director of Athletics.

“Yale gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. I have been honored to serve this great university for nearly a quarter of a century,” said Beckett. “The Yale community is a very caring and inspiring place. Striving for excellence is supported by all.  I shall forever cherish the incredible memories and wonderful people of this great university. On behalf of my wife Kim and son Alex I express my deepest and most sincere gratitude to our scholar-athletes, faculty, coaches, staff. and alums for their friendship and support. We look forward to another exciting year of Yale athletics.”

Salovey has appointed Marvin Chun, dean of Yale college and the Richard M. Colgate Professor of Psychology and Professor of Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, to chair an advisory committee that will search nationally for Beckett’s successor. The committee will conduct special outreach to the Yale community, especially to faculty, student-athletes, coaches, and alumni. Recommendations to the committee regarding the qualities and qualifications that should be considered in the search for a new athletics directors can be made on the webform.

Before his term concludes next year, we will have many occasions to celebrate Tom’s numerous achievements and exceptional 24-year tenure at Yale. For now, please join me in offering him our heartfelt appreciation and best wishes for success for the fall sports season,” Salovey said.

Campus & Community