DES MOINES, IA – This is the second straight year the Montana Grizzlies have advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
It’s a great accomplishment for the players and coaches and Athletic Director Kent Haslam knows it can give the entire school some very positive exposure.
“This is, I believe, the most high-profile event that the NCAA sponsors,” said Haslam. “It’s certainly the highest revenue generator. For the next three weeks, it really captivates the entire country.”
Montana returned so much talent from last year’s Big Sky champions, they became overwhelming preseason favorites to win the conference again and get back to the Big Dance.
In Haslam’s eyes, that doesn’t make this trip any less special.
“It really has become an expectation for us to be here,” he admitted. “But you never want to take a trip like this for granted, because getting here is so difficult.”
And the man in charge of the athletic department knows where to give the credit.
“I think it starts really with the culture that Travis DeCuire creates with his assistant coaches, and then it trickles down to the entire team,” explained Haslam. “I knew when Travis was hired he was going to be an outstanding coach.”
The rest of the country is starting to understand that, as well. And Haslam doesn’t shy away from the elephant in the room that is on the mind of many Griz fans. DeCuire’s success will continue to attract attention from potential suitors at bigger programs.
“If people are coming after our coaches, that’s a really good problem to have,” said Haslam. “We want to keep our coaches. We want to have great coaches. But we also understand what our ability is to pay, and what the national demand is right now. I’m never going to fault anyone for trying to get better.”
Haslam added that it’s his job to think ahead and come up with potential plans if something changes in the future.
But for now, he’ll be just like Montana fans all over the country, hoping DeCuire and the Grizzlies can find a way to upset Michigan on Thursday night.
The first round game will be aired nationally on TNT beginning at 7:20 p.m.
The Grizzlies have won 52 games over the past two seasons, the best two-year stretch in school history.