Robert Beers didn’t waste any words when asked why he was suddenly stepping down as athletic director at Rocky Mountain College.
“I’m tired,” he said. “I’m just legitimately tired.”
In a surprising move on Wednesday afternoon, the 41-year-old Beers, who has been on the job at the small Frontier Conference school for a little more than five years, publicly announced his decision to resign shortly after meeting with the Rocky coaches.
His resignation will be effective at the end of the week. The school said a national search will begin immediately to fill the position.
During an interview in his Fortin Center office, Beers said he had lost his “passion” for the multi-faceted job, which includes budgetary, game-day management and fund-raising responsibilities, and that he didn’t want that to “negatively affect” the school’s athletic program.
“I owe it to (Rocky) to have the opportunity to get somebody in here that was me five years ago — somebody that wants to continue to build and continue to make progress,” Beers said. “This isn’t one of those things where you can rest on your laurels. Athletics isn’t built that way.
“I just don’t think, at the end of the day, it’s fair to hold a job just to hold a job.”
Beers said he plans to remain in Billings with his wife, Cindy, and three young children, Megan, 9, Emily, 6, and R.J., eight months.
“I’m going to take some time and figure something out,” he said of his future.
Hired in January 2009 after spending six years as a scout for the Denver Broncos, Beers said he was proud of Rocky’s competitiveness in a wide variety of conference sports during recent seasons.
He said he also appreciated the camaraderie that exists amongst the Battlin’ Bear coaches, the support between all of the school’s athletic teams and the respect across campus between faculty members and the student-athletes.
“There’s a long way to go, but I don’t think you’re ever going to leave a situation that’s a finished product,” he said.
Brian Armstrong said he was appreciative of Beers giving him the opportunity in 2009 to become the school’s head football coach.
“We’ve been friends for a long time, and I really respect the job that he’s done here,” Armstrong said. “I think he’s a great person who is going to be missed. He’s definitely leaving this place better than he found it.”
Brad Nason, Rocky’s vice president for student life, said that Beers has “overseen the most successful five-year period in the history of Rocky Mountain College athletics.”
Since last September, Rocky teams or athletes have qualified for NAIA nationals in football, volleyball, men’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s basketball and men’s and women’s indoor track. The women’s ski-racing team also captured its first national championship earlier this month, while the men swept the individual titles.
“I loved working with our student-athletes,” Beers said. “That’s what kept me coming to work this long.”
Rocky is on the verge this year of winning the Frontier’s George Bandy Memorial All-Sports Award for the fifth time in 31 years — and first since the 2008-09 school year, when the Bears won a national championship in men’s basketball.
The Bandy Award is given out annually to the conference’s most successful athletic program.
“We’ve grown this athletic department by 100 student-athletes in the time I’ve been here,” Beers said. “We’ve seen dramatic improvements in our performance on the field, and we have not lost sight of what’s important in the classroom, as well.
“We’ve seen GPAs for every one of our teams boosted. The focus has really been to be more of a true student-athlete.”
However, after helping Rocky’s athletic program climb to the top, the maintenance work to stay there, along with satisfying the constant demands of the school’s administration, alumni, boosters and raising funds, “is just as tough, if not harder, than getting there,” Beers said.
It got to be too much for him, he said.
“If there’s one thing I can’t tolerate, it’s somebody going through the motions,” the competitive Beers said. “You’re either 100 percent in, or you’re dragging somebody else down. I would be a hypocrite if I sat in this chair and was focused on something other than what this job needs to have done …
“If I can’t commit fully, then somebody else should be here.”
Beers said working alongside the coaches and the small athletic department staff has been “very, very enjoyable for me.
“(Former president) Mike Mace gave me the opportunity,” he said. “Brad Nason mentored me. It’s not been an easy road, but nothing of value is ever attained easily. I appreciate everybody giving me this opportunity.
“There are a lot of friendships that were born on this campus for me. That means a lot.”
“I think Bobby has worked so hard the last five years,” volleyball coach Laurie Kelly said. “I mean, if you came up to Rocky Mountain College at any time, you would see Bobby Beers in this gym. I commend him for his loyalty to Rocky, and how hard he worked. I will miss him as a friend.”
Beers said the Rocky AD job is a good one, despite the demands that come with it.
“This isn’t a job where somebody has to come in and rebuild,” he said. “They have to find a way to take it to the next level. That requires somebody with passion. Our coaches will be 100 percent behind them. These are good, good people. Great people.”