BY KYLE SAMPLE & COLTER NUANEZ
Following the solidification of the first two-game losing streak to rival Montana State in 14 years, University of Montana athletic director Kent Haslam has decided to not renew head football coach Bob Stitt’s contract, multiple sources confirmed on Monday.
Less than 48 hours after the Griz football team suffered a 31-23 loss, MSU’s first win in Bozeman since 2005, Skyline Sports confirmed Stitt’s non-renewal through multiple unattached sources on Monday afternoon.
A source with direct knowledge of UM athletics department hiring and firing confirmed that Haslam and the entire football staff had a meeting on Monday morning that stretched into the afternoon.
Stitt is in the third and final year of a contract that is set to expire on January 1 of 2018. UM’s assistant coaches are on one-year contracts.
Following the end of the football staff’s meeting with Haslam, a source confirmed a team meeting taking place at 2:30 p.m. Monday. Shortly after Skyline Sports reported the meeting on Twitter, Montana sports information sent out a press release announcing that Stitt’s weekly press conference normally scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Mondays had been rescheduled to Monday at 4 p.m.
At 2:47 p.m., the Montana athletic department sent out a press release with a statement from Haslam that read:
“These decisions are always difficult, and I understand how this impacts many people. I appreciate Bob’s contributions to the University of Montana and Grizzly Athletics. He worked tirelessly to move the football program forward with a focus on overall student-athlete success.”
A source confirmed that the assistant coaching staff will have a chance to apply for their current positions when a new head coach is hired.
The most recent loss to the Bobcats stamped UM’s first two-game losing streak to its rival since 2002 and 2003. The defeat ensured Montana would not make the playoffs for the second straight season, UM’s first two-year postseason drought since 1991 and 1992.
The non-renewal means Stitt’s tenure at Montana ends with a 21-14 record that includes a 14-10 record against Big Sky Conference competition. Stitt posted a 1-2 record against Montana State and a 1-2 record against Eastern Washington, UM’s two primary rivals in the league.
Three unattached sources with direct knowledge of the opening confirmed that former Montana head coach Bobby Hauck and former Montana quarterback Brent Pease have strong interest in the position.
An independent source said that Kevin Kane, the defensive coordinator at Northern Illinois, will apply for the job.
At a news conference on Monday, Haslam adamantly denied having contact with any potential candidates.
This story will be updated.
Kyle Sample, Brooks Nuanez and Colter Nuanez contributed to the reporting of this story. All Rights Reserved.