Jim Hilleboe is a 1967 graduate of Montana who earned a degree in business
Kent Haslam was named the 17th Director of Athletics at the University of Montana on Sept. 17, 2012. Though it’s been a short tenure, he already has guided the department through a number of historic moments and improvements.
He has overseen the addition of women’s softball, the first sport added at Montana since 1994; he has secured the largest private gift in department history; he negotiated a five-year, all-school contract with Nike; and he has hired head coaches for football, men’s basketball, softball, volleyball and women’s golf.
Over the next two years the Department of Athletics will embark on the largest overhaul of facilities in school history, making $18 million worth of improvements, with a vast majority of the funding coming from private sources.
A new softball complex was completed in time for the inaugural 2015 season. A $2.5 million student-athlete academic center will open prior to the 2015 fall semester, $1 million of which came from an anonymous donor. And the women’s golf program will open a new indoor practice facility in time for the 2015-16 school year.
In November 2014 the department announced a $7 million commitment from Kyle and Kevin Washington on behalf of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation to help fund construction of the $14 million Washington-Grizzly Champions Center.
The 47,000-square-foot facility will feature a new football locker room and football student-athlete lounge, an all-sport weight room, plus improvements to Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
The gift for the facility, which will open in August 2017, was the largest donation to the Department of Athletics in university history.
While ensuring future success for Montana’s programs through facility improvements, Haslam’s leadership has allowed the Grizzlies’ past achievements to continue in the present, and in some areas proper to new heights.
Through the 2014 fall term, Montana had posted 19 straight semesters with a cumulative department GPA of 3.0 or better, and in 2013-14 Griz student-athletes gave more than 2,100 hours of service to Missoula and western Montana.
Since Haslam was hired, the Grizzlies have won Big Sky Conference championships in men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis and women’s soccer, and Montana hosted the combined men’s and women’s Big Sky basketball tournaments in both 2013 and ’15.
And the Montana football team and Washington-Grizzly Stadium have continued to be the biggest attraction in the state on Saturdays in the fall.
The Grizzlies have ranked in the top two in home attendance at the Football Championship Subdivision level the last three years, averaging more than 24,400 fans per game. Those fans have filled the 25,217-seat stadium to 97 percent capacity, with nearly half a million people coming to Montana’s campus.
Haslam’s diverse career in sports includes positions in professional baseball, a management role at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games at Salt Lake City and, of course, college athletics.
Haslam began his career at Montana in January 2006 as the Associate Director of Athletics for Development. In that position he served as chief development officer and directed and managed all fundraising activities for the Department of Athletics, while working as the liaison between the department of the UM Foundation.
In six-plus years in that position, he managed a portfolio of more than 150 donors and helped solicit and secure six- and seven-figure gifts and joint gifts to the Department of Athletics that benefitted other programs across campus as well.
The Department of Athletics generated on average more than $4 million per year in private support through gifts and pledges. He also was a key team member that helped fund recent expansions and improvements to Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
At the time of Haslam’s appointment to Director of Athletics, UM President Royce Engstrom said, “I believe Kent Haslam is the right person to lead the University of Montana athletic program into one of national distinction for athletics, academics and campus and community involvement.
“He was my choice because of his exemplary work for UM, because he understands Grizzly Athletics and because he has the attitude, capabilities and energy to lead us forward.”
Haslam added at the time, “I have tremendous respect for the tradition and history of this great university and look forward to helping advance the overall mission of UM.
“I believe strongly in the role that college athletics plays on a university campus, a role that unites, builds pride and serves the student-athletes and community. I look forward to advancing a vision focused on academic success, athletic excellence and community service.”
Prior to arriving at Montana in early 2006, Haslam worked as the Associate Director of Athletics for External Operations at Northern Arizona. He was hired at NAU in May 2000.
While at Northern Arizona, Haslam oversaw the areas of marketing, promotions, sports information, broadcasting, ticketing and game management. He also was the supervisor of the women’s soccer, women’s swimming and diving, and men’s tennis programs.
Under Haslam, the department generated record-setting revenue in 2004-05, highlighted by partnerships with Pepsi Bottling Company and the Summit Center, both Flagstaff-based companies who sponsored a new state-of-the-art video and scoreboard system in NAU’s Walkup Skydome.
Haslam served as manager of media and communications for the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee from 1998-2000. He returned to the city for the 2002 Olympic Games and served a month-long assignment a supervisor of the Olympic News Service.
From 1993-98, Haslam was the director of communications and corporate development for the Triple-A Salt Lake Buzz.
In 1997, he served as team travel coordinator, Japanese translator and media liaison for the Anaheim Angels during spring training. He translated for Angels pitcher Shigetoshi Hasegawa and handled Japanese media requests.
Haslam is a 1993 graduate of BYU, with a degree in broadcast journalism and Japanese. He earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from NAU in May 2004. Haslam is married to the former Holly Huber. The couple has five children: Braxton, Andersen, Avery, Layne and Kyler.
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