“It’s a wonderful opportunity to work closer with our internal staff, and I’m very excited about connecting with our community and campus partners,” he tells MSU Vice President and Secretary of the Board of Trustees Bill Beekman and Spartans Athletic Director Mark Hollis on MSU Today.
Haller is a Lansing native who has had a career in law enforcement. He played football at MSU and in the NFL. Those experiences help guide him in this new role. He says the mission of a campus police officer at MSU is similar to the one in his new position.
“Our goal as campus police officers was to make sure the campus environment was welcoming and safe and that we did everything to improve the experience for students, faculty and staff, and fans who visit our campus.
“That’s very similar to what we do in Athletics. We’re all about improving the student-athlete experience, making sure our alumni and fans have an engaging experience at our events, and also connecting with the university.”
And having been a MSU student-athlete himself helps Haller understand the time demands and other challenges facing student-athletes.
“From the professional football experience, I do know how to pack a bag because I was cut eight different times,” quips Haller. “I understand how to be resilient and bounce back quickly from things that happen in life.”
On working with MSU’s 800 student-athletes Haller says “I think it’s our responsibility to make sure that as they’re going through this experience, we’re helping them mature. We’re helping them understand these experiences are limited and there’s a time frame in terms of when they end and helping them understand what’s next and how you connect with people.
“One of the things I talk to student-athletes about is not to get caught up in everybody doing things for you and interacting only with people who come through the athletic facilities. Make sure you’re connecting with your professors and fellow students on your dorm floor. Develop the skills to reach outside of your comfort zone because sometimes we get so caught up in our own environment that we don’t know how to interact with other people.
“One of the best skills we can teach our current student-athletes is those interpersonal skills on how to connect with other people. That’s the first step. Then they need to take advantage of internships and opportunities to do things outside of athletics.”
Haller says there’s a lot of talk in intercollegiate athletics circles about time demands and giving back to student-athletes some of their time. He says that “giving back their time, though, shouldn’t be about having more time to be social or participate in other activities that aren’t developing them as people. Giving them back their time means the ability to do internships or the opportunity to be involved in a student group on campus.
“I don’t think we should give them back their time so they can sleep until 10:00 in the morning. I think it should be given back in a way where it’s helping them develop skills they’ll need when they leave here.”
MSU Today airs Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on 94.5 FM and AM 870.