Tom Beckett, who has the second longest (18) tenure of Yale Athletics Directors, has built top-notch facilities, bridged the relationship between Yale and New Haven, helped fill stadium seats and has brought some of the best coaches and student-athletes to campus.
As Yale’s 17th chief of athletics, Beckett has worked tirelessly to raise money for improvement projects, and his success has made the athletics facilities among the best in the country. The renovation of the Payne Whitney Gymnasium (Lanman Center, Israel Fitness Center, Brooks-Dwyer Weight Room, Brady Squash Center) was the first big job under the YUAD leader. The restoration of Yale Bowl (Class of 1954 Field, Kenney Center, Jensen Plaza) and Reese Stadium and the building of the McNay Family Sailing Center, Gilder Boathouse, Johnson Field and the Dewitt Family Softball Complex were other large projects during Beckett’s tenure. Renovations on the world famous Course at Yale, Ingalls Rink and the Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center has brought those facilities to unprecedented levels. The installation of a banked track inside Coxe Cage named after Frank Shorter ’69 was yet another successful endeavor.
Yale has owned the No. 1 NCAA Academic Progress Rate Ranking for the last seven years. There has been comparable success on the field, including a school-record seven Ivy League titles in 2010-11. One of those belonged to the men’s hockey team, which had Division I’s top win percentage from 2008 to 2011 and was a victory away from the Frozen Four twice. National championships from women’s squash (4), women’s crew (4), lightweight crew (3) and women’s sailing are other accomplishments under Beckett.
The Community Pillar
Beckett has made community involvement a high priority. His leadership in community endeavors helped create the award-winning Thomas W. Ford ’42 Community Outreach Program, one that brings area youth to the campus for events such as the National Youth Sports Program and Yale Youth Days.
Beckett has opened the Yale Athletics doors to those outside the campus. It’s no coincidence that attendance has increased dramatically since he arrived. The football team has been ranked among the top 10 Football Championship Subdivision schools in attendance almost every year since 1994 and led the nation in 2003. He implemented a Yale Corporate Partners Program and strengthened the broad-based friends of Yale Athletics group, the Ray Tompkins Associates. The primary beneficiaries of these endeavors are Yale undergraduates, who get free admission to all home contests.
Working closely with admissions, financial aid and head coaches, Beckett helped streamline the process required to recruit the best student-athletes while improving the relationship between athletics and those two departments.
The Seasoned Administrator
A 1968 graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Beckett earned three varsity letters in baseball and basketball, serving as the captain of the Panthers’ 1968 baseball team. He earned a master’s degree in education from his alma mater in 1972 and is a 1975 graduate of Harvard’s Summer Institute of Life Science. Beckett played professional baseball in the San Francisco Giants’ organization for five seasons before embarking on a career in college athletics. He coached at the University of Pittsburgh and Butler Community College (PA), and was an athletic administrator at San Jose State University before moving to Stanford, where he served from 1983 to 1994 as associate director of athletics. During his tenure at Stanford, Cardinal teams won 32 NCAA championships, and the program received seven NCAA “Champion of Champions” awards.
Beckett and his wife, Kim, reside in Guilford with their son, Alex.