The low point of Brad Huse’s eight-year tenure in Bozeman turned out to be the final chapter.
Huse resigned as men's basketball coach at Montana State on Tuesday, athletic director Peter Fields announced, 10 days after the Bobcats failed to qualify for the Big Sky Conference tournament. Huse had one year remaining on his contract.
The decision came during a morning meeting between Huse and Fields, the school said in a release. Fields indicated that the search for a new coach is under way.
“Brad offered his resignation during a meeting this morning, and I have accepted it,” Fields said. “I want to thank him for his effort, dedication and integrity. I wish Brad and his family nothing but the best.”
Fields was asked during an afternoon meeting with reporters whether Huse's resignation was forced. Fields replied: “I don’t know if that’s a good assumption. We had a discussion and Brad tendered his resignation.
“He didn’t give a reason. He just said, ‘It’s time to resign.’”
Fields did say, however, that Huse will still be paid for the final year of his contract, indicating that a buyout was exercised. Huse made roughly $115,000 in base salary this season.
“There was an option in (the contract) for both of us," Fields said. "And as we talked about it we exercised those options from the contractual part of it. He'll get paid for another year, yes.”
Huse was not available for comment.
Huse, 47, coached the Bobcats to a 14-17 record in the 2013-14 season, including a 9-11 mark in the league. A three-game losing streak at the end of the year pushed MSU out of the seven-team league tournament. It was the first time MSU missed the postseason in 10 years.
In eight seasons under Huse, the Bobcats were 107-134 overall (.443) and 64-72 in conference games (.470). Huse signed a two-year contract extension at the end of last season, during which the Cats went 13-17 and 10-10 in the league.
The team had high expectations for this season, with talented junior college transfers such as Flavien Davis and Antonio Biglow in their second year with the program. But it didn't pan out.
MSU qualified for the conference tournament in each of Huse’s first seven seasons, and made an unexpected run to the league championship game in 2009, one win from an NCAA tournament berth.
But the Bobcats went 67-83 overall, 43-46 in Big Sky games, and didn’t win another league tournament contest in any of the following five seasons.
MSU hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 1996.
Huse, a Missoula native, was hired as the 18th coach in program history on April 4, 2006. He replaced Mick Durham, who was coach for the previous 16 seasons.
Prior to his hiring at MSU, Huse was an assistant on Larry Krystkowiak's staff at Montana for two seasons. Before that he was the head coach at NAIA Jamestown (N.D.) College, where he guided the Jimmies to the national tournament four times.
Fields said Dr. George Haynes, the faculty representative to the athletic department, will chair the search committee seeking a new coach. Fields hopes to have someone hired by April.
“Hiring the right person is the most important factor,” Fields said. “We want to win games. We want to recruit. We want to win on the (court) and in the classroom. We want somebody that has integrity and the ability to win the crowd.
"We have to win the people's support back."