March 25, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State associate men's basketball coach Mark Montgomery has been named head men's basketball coach at Northern Illinois, as announced by the athletics department on Thursday, March 24. Montgomery becomes the eighth different assistant under head coach Tom Izzo to take over their own program.
"This is an unbelievable opportunity," Montgomery said. "When you take into account the family atmosphere that Jeff [Compher] and Dr. Peters have developed, the location right outside of Chicago, the Mid-American Conference competition, the unbelievable academics and the great facilities, I believe Northern Illinois is a sleeping giant. In talking to the committee and especially Jeff, you can see the commitment to basketball. Dr. Peters has a vision for the university, and also takes a great interest in athletics while recognizing the role it plays on campus. I am looking forward to helping bring NIU basketball to the national stage."
Montgomery, a Michigan native who also has experience in the Mid-American Conference in four seasons as an assistant coach at Central Michigan, has made 10 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament and three Final Four appearances with the Spartans since joining Izzo's staff in 2001. He helped coach 26 All-Big Ten players at Michigan State and six players that went on to be selected in the National Basketball Association Draft, while on the bench for 235 MSU wins - an average of 23.5 victories per season.
In 2010, Montgomery was named one of the top five high-major assistant coaches in the country by FoxSports.com, while Rivals.com put him on its list of "10 Assistant Coaches Ready to Move Up." In addition, FoxSports.com national college basketball writer Jeff Goodman named Montgomery the top assistant coach in the Big Ten Conference based on a poll of league coaches.
"I am pleased for Mark in being named head coach at Northern Illinois," said MSU head coach Tom Izzo. "Tom Crean and Brian Gregory were off the charts, but they were only here four years, or so. Mark has spent more time with us. Every year, I let him do more and more -- and he's right up there with them in terms of understanding the game. Over the past few years, he has called our offensive sets, and I let him do it. He's an incredibly hard worker and organizer, and I think he's going to be an incredibly good head coach."
In four seasons as an assistant coach at Central Michigan University from 1997-2001, Montgomery helped the Chippewas to a 20-8 record and the school's first MAC Championship in 14 years in 2000-01. Following that season, he returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach. In 2007, he was elevated to associate head coach at MSU. In that role, he has helped develop perimeter players like Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager, Kalin Lucas, Raymar Morgan, Drew Neitzel and Marcus Taylor, each of whom earned all-conference recognition under his tutelage.
Montgomery was a four-year letterwinner and starter for the Spartans from 1988-92 and was a third-team All-Big Ten selection in 1992 when he averaged 7.0 points and 6.3 assists as a senior co-captain on MSU's 22-8 team. He helped MSU win the 1990 Big Ten Championship, and Michigan State made three NCAA Tournament appearances and an NIT Final Four during his career. He still ranks fourth on the Spartans' career assists chart and is third all-time in career steals. In addition, he was a two-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.
After leaving Michigan State, he played four years of professional basketball in Europe where he averaged more than 25 points per game on teams in Germany, Lithuania and Sweden.