KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kathy Beauregard, Western Michigan University’s longtime athletic director, has retired after 42 years with the school.

Building a legacy isn’t easy. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work… lots of it. It takes passion. Even more of that, it takes time. Beauregard’s legacy at Western Michigan started 42 years ago when she was hired as a gymnastics coach and quickly won a conference championship.

“This was a team that wasn’t good enough to win, but they believed. They believed,” Beauregard said. “You have to believe. You have to have the passion.”

Passion isn’t the only thing Beauregard brought to the table. Her legacy was also built on courage.

“I think the important thing is always sticking up and fighting for what you believe,” she said.

There aren’t many women who have been tasked to run college athletic departments. In fact, she is one of nine among the 130 Football Bowl Subdivision schools across the nation, and hiring her wasn’t always the most popular decision.

“When President Floyd also came to the university, an African American president was appointed, the university was already getting letters: ‘you idiots, we’re not supporting you because you have a woman running your athletic department.’ Honest to God,” Beauregard said.

Not one to back down, Beauregard set out to bring a sense of pride to the program. Something that was badly missing.

“I grew up in Kalamazoo. People never were proud to be Broncos,” she said.

That changed under her leadership with Bronco teams winning 58 MAC championships and 36 teams making NCAA tournaments, including hockey and basketball.

Beauregard also made her mark by serving on some of the NCAA’s most prominent committees. She’s piled up honors from across the country during her tenure.

“It hasn’t been easy. It’s been a discriminatory, tough environment at times. I hope that our athletes can see that, it doesn’t matter what your gender is, when you’re leading. You lead young men and women, that have been able to see me as a female do a job that most people don’t have the opportunities for,” Beauregard said. “I didn’t grow up thinking I’d ben an AD, because there weren’t any, but that’s what it became. It’s really fun for me to see that now.”

Dan Bartholomae will take the reigns on Saturday, pending Board of Trustees approval at the next regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 20, 2022.