(Editor's note: MSUB athletics release)
BILLINGS — The Montana State University Billings athletic department announced the appointment of Luke Fennelly as interim head coach for the MSUB men’s basketball program.
“Luke has been instrumental in the success of our program and has earned the opportunity to lead our men’s basketball program,” said MSUB athletic director Michael Bazemore. “He has a depth of experience as an assistant coach and carries with him strong references from his peers, and support from student-athletes and administrators. I am excited for Luke and look forward to supporting him in this new role.”
Fennelly, a native of Whitefish, Montana, will be officially appointed on July 1, 2023, but will be transitioning into the role throughout the remainder of the semester. He takes the position after three seasons as an assistant coach under previous head coach Mick Durham, who announced his retirement last week. Fennelly was Durham’s top assistant for the first two seasons, before being promoted to associate head basketball coach ahead of the 2022-2023 season.
“I want to thank Mike Bazemore and Chancellor Hicswa for this amazing opportunity,” said Fennelly. “I’m forever grateful for Coach Durham’s leadership, and the exceptional young men in our locker room that have helped shape a winning culture during my time at MSUB. I look forward to continuing to build the men’s basketball team into a program that our alumni, the city of Billings, and the state of Montana can be proud of.”
Fennelly helped oversee one of the top seasons in the program’s history this past season. MSUB went 20-10 overall, and 14-4 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, finishing second in the regular season standings and qualifying for the NCAA D2 Tournament. The 20 wins were the most wins in a season for MSUB since 2005-2006, and the ‘Jackets earned their best ever finish in the GNAC standings.
“Coach Fennelly has been with me for three seasons and involved in all aspects of our basketball program at MSUB,” said Durham. ”I’m super excited for him to have the opportunity to lead this program. Luke has worked under five different head coaches and that experience will benefit him. His energy and work ethic are second to none, and he is more than ready for this opportunity.”
Fennelly has been the lead recruiter for some of MSUB’s top players over the past few seasons, including all-GNAC honorable mention Damen Thacker, all-GNAC first teamer, GNAC Defensive Player of the Year, and second team all-region pick Bilal Shabazz, and Carrington Wiggins, who was a two-time all-GNAC first team honoree, the 2022-2023 GNAC Player of the Year, and first team all-region selection.
Before joining the Yellowjackets, Fennelly spent seven seasons as a member of the coaching staff at Montana State University, where he climbed the ladder from graduate assistant, to operations coordinator, to assistant coach. As the director of basketball operations, Fennelly coordinated all of the Bobcat’s team travel and non-conference game scheduling, while also being responsible for the logistics and coordination of all MSU basketball camps. He was among one of the youngest D1 assistant coaches when he assumed the position at Montana State at the age of 28.
As an assistant at MSU, Fennelly helped the Bobcats to it’s best Big Sky record in 15 seasons, and was on staff for the team’s first conference tournament win since 2009. Fennelly was in charge of the offense at MSU, and was the lead recruiter for student-athletes in the state of Montana. Fennelly helped oversee the development of Keljin Blevins and Tyler Hall, the first two Bobcats to ever play in the NBA.
Fennelly began his coaching career at Lane Community College. He rose to head assistant there in 2012-2013, and helped that team earn a 22-10 record, a top ranking in the NWAC, and a berth in the league tournament for the first time in five seasons.
Fennelly earned his bachelor’s degree in sports business from the University of Oregon, and master’s in health and human performance.