Springfield, Mo. — Former Missouri Southern coach and Athletic Director Sallie Beard will be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame on March 30, 2017, the organization announced today.
Beard will be inducted as part of the fourth-annual Women’s Sports Luncheon presented by the Bee Payne-Stewart Foundation, set for 11 a.m. on Thursday, March 30 at the University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center. Beard will be one of four individuals going into the Hall of Fame, joining Evangel University women’s basketball coach Leon Neal, former Missouri women’s basketball coach Joann Rutherford, and former Lockwood High School volleyball coach Cheryl Shores. The Hall will also honor Jodie Adams with the President’s Award, as well as recognize eight individuals of the innagural Wynn Award, named after longtime Missouri State Administrator Dr. Mary Jo Wynn.
“If you had told me when I was a student at Missouri Southern that I would have been fortunate enough to have the career that I would have, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Beard said. “As I reflect on my career I feel very fortunate to have the breadth of experience I was afforded. I am humbled and honored by the Missouri sports hall of fame deciding to recognize my career.”
Beard served Missouri Southern State University as both coach and Athletic Director for 37 years before her retirement in 2009. She single-handedly created women’s athletics at Missouri Southern when she started the first women’s sports teams, serving as head coach of basketball, softball, tennis, and track and field. For 25 years, she was the Women’s Athletic Director. In 2001, she was named the first Athletic Director to oversee both the men’s and women’s athletic programs at MSSU.
Always one to lead by example, Beard served on numerous NCAA Division II committees, among them: Degree Completion, Convention and Planning, Identity, Nominating and Voting, and Athlete Reinstatement. She served on the association-wide NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics, where she was assigned the responsibility of developing Title IX interpretive language for the Office of Civil Rights. From 2005 to 2009 she was a member of the Division II Management Council. Beard has also been a leader in the MIAA, serving as vice president before her election in 1999 to a two-year term as Conference President, the first athletics director to be chosen for that position.
Beard helped usher in a new era in MSSU Athletics when the university moved from the NAIA to NCAA Division II and the MIAA in 1989. She oversaw significant facility improvements at Southern, most notably the Lionpride Restoration Project, adding new turf, lighting, and track and field surfaces to Fred G. Hughes Stadium; the construction of the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center (a basketball and indoor track facility); and the Lea Kungle and Gene Wild softball fields. Missouri Southern consistently ranked among the best academically in the MIAA. Under Beard’s leadership, athletes recorded an Academic Success Rate of 87 percent, a full 36 percent higher than the general student population at MSSU.
In 2014 Beard was awarded the Nike Lifetime Achievement Award by NACWAA, the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators. She is a member of the Missouri Southern State University Athletics Hall of Fame, Joplin Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2010 she was inducted into the inaugural class of the MIAA Hall of Fame.
After her retirement, Beard’s administrative skills were once again called into action. Following the 2011 tornado that struck Joplin, she became deeply involved in the rebuilding effort, organizing housing for the many volunteers who came to her city. In 2015 Beard was appointed to the Joplin Schools Board of Education. She is a member of Kiwanis and serves as a volunteer with the United Way Circles of Joplin.
Beard and her late husband Larry are the parents of two children, Meghan Klosterman and Andrew Beard, and five grandchildren.
“This is a very well-deserved honor for someone that has dedicated such a large part of her life to supporting the Green and Gold like Sallie has,” said MSSU Athletic Director Jared Bruggeman. “Sallie was part of the athletic department for 37 years and she can be looked at as one of the pioneers of women’s athletics at Missouri Southern as well as in the world of women’s collegiate athletics. Her hard work, particularly early in her career has helped pave the way for many student-athletes over our school’s history.”
Beard is now the sixth former coach/administrator or student-athlete from Missouri Southern to be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. She joins Tom Rutledge, Dr. Pat Lipira, Robert Corn, Warren Turner and Rod Smith.
“Sallie Beard interviewed & hired me in 1981,” Lipira said. “She is the primary reason that I remained at MSSU for my entire career. What an amazing pioneer and role model for young women! This is an honor long overdue.”