WHITEFISH — After doing the job for more than a year, Jeff Malby no longer needs a disclaimer.
Malby was officially named the Rocky Mountain College director of athletics last week after serving as the university’s interim AD since February of 2018. Malby told MTN Sports of his title change at the Frontier Conference athletic directors meeting at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake on Tuesday.
It’s been a whirlwind 15 months for Malby on the job. He had to hire two new head coaches — Yang Yang in volleyball and Chris Stutzriem in football — to join a department that features 14 sports, seven of which participated in the NAIA postseason in the past year.
“Thrown in the fire, I have to manage people a lot differently,” Malby said. “One thing I learned is how great and how easy and low-maintenance our coaches are. If it weren’t for that fact, I’m not sure I would’ve not drowned in the water I was floating in.”
Malby, a Three Forks native, has a long history with Rocky Mountain College. He graduated from the school in 1984 and has coached with both the men’s and women’s basketball programs in different stints, returning to RMC in 2014 after coaching at the high school level.
Malby coached the Billings Central High School girls basketball program from 2009-13, winning Class A state championships in 2010 and 2012. Prior to taking over at Central, Malby coached at Hardin High School under the direction of athletic director Duane Walker.
“Coaching for years, you kind of get a different taste for the different athletic directors you work for and take a little bit … from all of them,” Malby said. “Duane Walker from Hardin probably taught me the best that not everybody’s going to like you and ‘no’ is an important word, but also being able to tell them why ‘no’ is a good word. Also how black and white you need to be. You still have to be flexible, but they have to know if they’re not doing the things the way they need to be, if they’re not following policies, but at the same time you have to pump them up and have their back. That’s really what I got from Duane Walker.”
Malby has also taken lessons from Bruce Parker, whose college athletics career spans nearly 40 years. After stops at Montana State and Carroll College, Parker became Rocky’s AD in 2014. During his three-plus years at Rocky, Parker was instrumental in the renovation of Herb Klindt Field and helped bring the NAIA Division I women’s basketball national tournament to Billings.
“One thing I learned from Bruce is, it’s all about the student-athlete experience and whatever you can do to promote that — in all facets, not just on the field or on the court. He was about the classroom and making things better for the coaches and for the student-athletes,” Malby said. “His hand’s got to be worn out from all the shaking of hands. I was at the NAIA convention when he got inducted. It was a pretty proud moment. He’s got at least a couple more to go. … Won’t be long until he’s in ours, too.”