After a rapid-fire yet close to the vest search for its next men’s basketball coach, Montana State ultimately stayed close to home.
On Thursday afternoon, MSU announced the hiring of former Hall of Fame sharpshooter Danny Sprinkle as the next head coach of the Bobcat men’s basketball team.
“There are so many people to thank,” Sprinkle said in an MSU press release. “This is an unbelievable opportunity for me, my friends and my family. I wouldn’t be close to anywhere to where I’m at right now without the support and guidance of so many individuals.
“The people at Montana State attracted me the most to the position. It was even more attractive of a job once I got up to campus and met the people and sat down with them face to face. President Waded Cruzado’s energy is contagious. You can see why the campus is booming and why the town is booming. I’m very excited to work with Leon. I know he’s going to do all he can to get our program back to the top.”
Montana State athletic director Leon Costello elected to not renew the contract of former head coach Brian Fish after five seasons. Fish went 65-92, including 42-50 in Big Sky Conference play.
“After a thorough review of the men’s basketball program, I met with Brian and informed him of my decision not to renew his contract; I also thanked Brian for his years of service to Montana State University,” Costello said in a statement issued by the school.
“This type of decision is always hard and one I do not take lightly. We are grateful to Brian for his dedication to Montana State University and the men’s basketball program. We wish Brian the best in his future endeavors.”
Through an MSU spokesman, Costello declined further comment until he hires his next head coach. On March 22, Montana State released its seven-member selection committee.
- Camie Bechtold, Senior Associate Athletic Director – Administration
- Casey Fox, Senior Associate Athletic Director – External Relations (Chair)
- Harald Frey, Men’s Basketball – Student-Athlete
- George Haynes, Montana State University – Extension Specialist Agriculture & Economics/Faculty Athletics Representative
- Terry Leist, Montana State University – Vice President, Administration & Finance
- Rainey Peuse, QA Engineer Oracle/Alumni Relations Advisory Board Member/6th Man Club Member
- Stu Starner, Advisor to Search Committee – Former Montana State Men’s Basketball Coach/6th Man Club Member
Sources confirm Montana State received interest from hundreds of coaches interested in the opening and were in direct contact with as many as 50. MSU brought at least four candidates — Sprinkle, Xavier assistant Ben Johnson and Purdue assistant Steve Lutz were confirmed by Skyline Sports — before settling on the Helena native who finished his career as the greatest 3-point shooter in Montana State history.
“We are thrilled to bring Danny back home to Bozeman,” Costello said. “This search was intense and exhaustive, with a large number of high-quality coaches interested in coming to Montana State University. But at every turn, Danny kept rising to the top.
“It’s clear that his Bobcat pride runs deep. Combined with his coaching and recruiting experience and legendary career at Montana State, we couldn’t be more excited to have him leading our program into the future.”
Sprinkle helped lead the Bobcats to the NCAA Tournament in 1996, the last time Montana State participated in the Big Dance. That season, as a freshman, Sprinkle earned Big Sky Tournament MVP honors. He scored 30 points in the Big Sky championship game to help Montana State take down Weber State. By the time he graduated in 2000, he was a three-time All-Big Sky Conference selection.
Sprinkle ended his career as MSU’s all-time leader in 3-point shots made, hitting 263 triples at a 41.8 percent clip. He scored 1,497 points, sixth-most ever at MSU at the time his career ended. He was inducted into MSU’s Hall of Fame in 2006.
Sprinkle was an assistant at Cal State-Northridge from 2001 until 2006, then again from 2008 until 2013. He is currently an assistant at Cal State-Fullerton, a position he has held for six seasons. He helped the Titans advance to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in school history two seasons ago.
The former star guard was an assistant at Montana State from 2006 until 2008 on Brad Huse’s staff, serving as the Bobcats’ recruiting coordinator, assisting with the offense, and development of MSU’s perimeter players.
This is the first head coaching job for the 42-year-old MSU alum. He graduated with his degree in heath and human development.
“Helena is where I grew up, but Bozeman is where I came into my own,” Sprinkle said. “I always take pride in Bozeman. It’s a second home. I love to see how it’s growing and you see everything and the way it’s booming. I can’t wait to add to that excitement.”