Western Michigan University Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard says last football season was “a dream come true” for the Broncos, but she says the dream doesn’t stop.
A new season means a new coach. P.J. Fleck left after four seasons. His time included the first bowl win in Bronco history, and a MAC championship last season followed by an appearance in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day. Beauregard says she knew Fleck was likely to move on, but she says the school is excited for new coach Tim Lester, a former star quarterback for the Broncos.
Western opens the season at the University of Southern California Saturday in Los Angeles. Beauregard says it’s unusual for a Mid-American Conference team to play a PAC-12 school, in part because of the travel required. But Beauregard says Western doesn’t shy away from playing the best competition. She says tough schedules in past seasons prepared the Broncos for last season.
Beauregard says Western hopes to play six homes and six away as they do this season. There will also be two Wednesday night games at Waldo Stadium in November, one of those against rival Central Michigan. Beauregard says it’s not ideal to play a weeknight game against the Chippewas. But she says the MAC’s deal with ESPN determines when those games are played. Beauregard says the game is scheduled for Wednesday night to be shown on one of the ESPN networks because the Broncos are expected to be in competition for championship in November.
Western earned a bid for a New Year’s Bowl game last year, but was not considered for a spot in the four team playoff despite an undefeated record. Asked if she favored expanding the playoff to possibly make room for a MAC team, Beauregard says no. She says that changes to the format aren’t likely any time soon. Beauregard says “a lot of dollars are involved” in how the playoff is put together.
This will be the fifth season that Western has played in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. Beauregard says the Broncos, who made the NCAA tournament last season, are playing the best hockey possible against high quality competition in the NCHC. Western joined the conference after the CCHA dissolved when the Big Ten started a hockey conference. Beauregard says many fans still want to see the former CCHA teams – Michigan will be on the schedule in the future. Ferris State, Bowling Green, Michigan State play at Lawson Ice Arena this season. Beauregard says it’s important to keep an eye out for potential changes in hockey conferences. Notre Dame in joining the Big Ten in hockey this season.
20 years after becoming Western’s athletic director, Beauregard says opportunities for women still not where they should be. She says more women are being hired, but often at schools that don’t have football. Ironically, three of the teams in the New Year’s Bowl Games and playoffs were led by female athletic directors. Beauregard says “it can happen and should happen, there should be more.” Beauregard says of the small increase in women leading athletic departments. “I hope it doesn’t take us 20 more years.”