Montana coaching legend Mick Durham will return home to lead the Montana State University Billings men’s basketball team as its head coach, announced by the athletic department on Wednesday.
“We are very pleased Coach Durham has accepted our offer to become our head men’s basketball coach,” commented Yellowjacket director of athletics Krista Montague. “He has a tremendous basketball background, and a strong track record of recruiting, developing, and mentoring high-quality student-athletes. His vast experience, coming from both the NCAA Division I and Division II levels, naturally caught our eye right away. Mick’s vision of how to build a program capable of competing at a high level in the GNAC and within Division II is impressive.”
Durham, a native of Three Forks, Mont., and alumnus of Montana State University, has spent the last seven seasons as the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Alaska Fairbanks which competes against MSUB as a fellow member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
“I am really excited to be coming home to coach again, and can’t wait to get started at MSUB,” said Durham, whose 246 wins at MSU are the second-most in program history. “I am really honored and appreciative of the opportunity given to me by Krista and Chancellor Larsen. I understand Montana and have experience in the GNAC, so we are ready to hit the ground running.”
Durham was named the GNAC co-Coach of the Year in 2012, after leading Alaska to a second-place finish in the GNAC standings and an appearance in the GNAC Championships semifinals. Two years ago under Durham’s guidance, the Nanooks reached 15 conference wins for the first time in program history, and their 22 total victories were second-most in school history. The Nanooks advanced to the GNAC title game and narrowly lost to NCAA Final Four opponent Western Oregon.
“We could not be more excited for Coach Durham and his wife Donna to join our Yellowjacket family,” Montague said. “He is a trusted and proven leader, who is deeply rooted in our state and region. We look forward to watching our men’s basketball program flourish under his direction.”
Before his time at Alaska, Durham served as assistant coach at New Mexico State University for three seasons after 16 years as head coach of the Bobcats. While at MSU, Durham was named the Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year three times (1996, 2002, 2005), and led his team to conference titles in 1996 and 2002. His tenure as head coach came after eight years as assistant coach for MSU, where he competed from 1974-79. Durham is still fourth in MSU history with 362 assists and a free-throw percentage of 81.6.
Durham succeeds Jamie Stevens, who resigned earlier in March after seven seasons as MSUB head coach. Stevens went 89-114 overall (.438) and was 52-80 (.393) in conference play dating back to the 2011-12 season. Durham is the 15th coach in MSUB history. Mike Harkins is the all-time wins leader as MSUB men’s basketball head coach, with a record of 280-142 from 1960-76.
The Yellowjackets went 13-18 in 2017-18, and finished in ninth place in the GNAC with a conference record of 5-15.