BILLINGS - Michael Bazemore beat out more than 60 candidates for the athletic director position at MSU Billings. Sixty-three was the exact number to apply.
Bazemore, who spent five years working in the Yellowjacket athletic department between 2012-2016, arrived on campus Monday and met the media Tuesday afternoon.
His variety of previous experience at MSUB, in part, was what pushed him over the top, according to Chancellor Dr. Stefani Hicswa.
"He knew our campus so well, he knew what we needed, he knew what the vision was to carry through," Hicswa said. "But, quite frankly, his expertise and experience since he left here is what pushed him over the top."
His experience most recently was at the NCAA National Office. But Bazemore's first role on this path to athletic director? Intern in the Yellowjacket sports office in 2012.
Since then, a rise from intern to in charge.
"I definitely feel we can be one of the premier Division II institutions within our region," Bazemore said. "But, that being said, it is going to take a lot of work."
Which starts with Bazemore's first priority.
"Within any transition there's probably a lot of angst, so just calming the waters with our student athletes, coaches, administrators and making sure we're on the same page," he said.
Bazemore replaces Krista Montague, who stepped down in March after nine years on the job. She was the first female NCAA athletic director in Montana.
Bazemore now has the experience of seeing college athletics from both sides. He was a four-year football player at Michigan State. Here's how he plans to apply that to these Yellowjackets.
"Understand that you have to take a certain ownership and responsibility under your journey because it's your experience," he said. "We can aid in that, we can provide the proper resources, but ultimately, you have to take those steps (as a student-athlete)."
On a lighter note, like a lot of former collegiate athletes, Bazemore may occasionally long for his playing eligibility. But knows his body joints might not keep up.
"I can't play as well as I used to in football and basketball," he said with a laugh. "But that fire that still burns in me is more or less me living vicariously through our student-athletes. Hopefully when I get a chance to meet them in person, I can try to pass on that fire."