Kathy Beauregard, Western Michigan University
Get involved. That was one of the first pieces of advice Kathy Beauregard heard when she was named athletic director at Western Michigan 21 years ago.
As a member of the NCAA’s bowl certification committee in the late 1990s, Beauregard was struck by the oversized championship rings each of the men in the group wore. Her mind wandered as she thought about the ring she’d wear when her Broncos won a Mid-American Conference football championship.
Beauregard had to wait nearly two decades, but Western Michigan got its rings after the magical 2016 season when it went 13-0 before falling to Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl.
“What I dreamed my entire career about was happening,” Beauregard said.
The long trip from gymnastics coach in 1979 to being one of just seven female ADs in FBS when she was hired in 1997 enabled Beauregard to raise her family in her hometown of Kalamazoo and eventually become the longest-tenured AD in the conference.
As she manages a $31 million annual budget, Beauregard is solving the challenges that come with being AD at a school outside the power five, which includes capitalizing on WMU’s dream season in 2016. Since then, 40 percent of the donations to the university have been directed to athletics, giving her department a critical spike in funding.
“It’s not a job I ever believed I’d have because there just weren’t that many women in AD roles,” she said. “But every time a woman fills one of those jobs, there is a sense of pride.”
— Michael Smith