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Krista Montague blazed trail as MSU Billings athletic director

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Posted at 4:40 PM, Mar 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-31 21:18:19-04

BILLINGS -- MSU Billings director of athletics Krista Montague has spent the better part of her last 25 years there at Alterowitz Gymnasium.

She arrived on campus in 1995 primed to play basketball for the Yellowjackets and pins a lot of her destiny today on the coach who gave her a shot.

"I have to give credit to Frank McCarthy who recruited me out of little Hysham, Montana," Montague told MTN Sports Wednesday while visiting on that same court. "I mean, without that experience I don't know if I would have been here."

Montague said that experience opened her eyes to what she calls the high level of NCAA Division II athletics and started her career path to AD. Her first look was reaching the NCAA DII Elite 8 as a player during the 1998-99 season.

She then climbed the school's professional ladder through a series of five job titles before blazing a trail as MSUB's first female athletic director and one of only a handful nationwide.

"Well, I think the competitive side of me really wanted to do this," Montague recalled.

The job description endures a long list -- most critically, she said, managing people. Among those staffers, an office of athletic department workers and currently 10 head coaches. It's a public position rewarding at times but not always.

"Unfortunately, sometimes you have to let coaches go. That has been hard," she said. "But I always had in mind what's best for the student-athletes and that's always what drove my decisions.

"Curve balls are thrown at us all the time in athletics and I think that's what athletics teaches us, to be resilient, a hard worker, to have good time management, take problems as they're thrown at you and figure them out and do the best you can."

Montague, who will remain on board through June 30, said she's thankful for years of assists from MSUB chancellors, administrators, coaches, donors, alumni and so many others. She's proud of student-athlete accomplishments both in the classroom and competitively in sports. One that comes to mind is on the diamond.

"I think when MSUB brought baseball back years ago there was some doubt," she said, "like baseball? In this northern climate?"

The baseball 'Jackets have since won multiple conference championships and right now showcase the nation's leading NCAA home run hitter in Daniel Cipriano. So why the decision to step aside now?

"It just felt like the right time to pass the torch, to let somebody else come in and take this thing forward," Montague said. "It's a great job, it's going to attract a great pool of candidates."

Montague will forever be known as MSUB's first female director of athletics. But nearly a decade later, she's hoping that's not her final footprint.

"I was proud of that but more important, I just hope I'm not the last," she said. "You know, maybe someday it will again be a female and that will mean more to me than being the first female A.D. because little girls watching, you can do this. You can have a career in college sports and have a family. Whatever you want to do. I just want them to see that they can do this if that's what they choose to do."