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UGF job is a homecoming for Dave Gantt - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

UGF job is a homecoming for Dave Gantt

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GREAT FALLS -

New University of Great Falls Vice President for Athletics Dave Gantt knew he was back in Central Montana the second he turned off Interstate 90 at Three Forks and headed for Helena. 

“I usually keep going towards Spokane. And when I got to Helena I saw the big thing hanging on the hill,” Gantt recalled. “The sleeping giant! And then I had to dodge a few deer and some antelope. It was a little bit of a deja vu deal for about two and a half hours. But it’s all good though.”

Gantt experienced the joys of I-15 plenty in his formative years. He graduated from the College of Great Falls in 1978 with a degree in education and did his student teaching at Great Falls High. Since then he’s enjoyed an extensive and successful career in athletics making stops at Oregon State, Montana State, MSU-Northern and most recently as the head volleyball coach at Gonzaga. It’s a long and winding road that ends with a homecoming at UGF. 

“Athletics have been really good to me through the years so I just try to give back,” Gantt said. “I know if I hadn’t have come here when I did as an undergraduate the story that’s been written might have been different. Maybe not so positive. So in a bizarre way I feel like I owe a lot to the University of Great Falls.”

Gantt has been a NCAA Division I coach at Oregon State, Montana State and Gonzaga. He’s been an athletic director at MSU-Northern. And now he’s in a position to utilize his wealth of experience to push the Argos onward and upward. 

“It’s all relevant,” Gantt said. “Especially the Gonzaga job at a small Catholic school like UGF. So I have this pretty good vision and frame work to come in and start to detail it out a little bit more.”

He’s also in a position to be a resource for the talented Argo coaching staff. 

“I didn’t have a chance to recruit them,” Gantt said. “But we have some talent. And we have some challenges. What are we going to do when things get tough.Those are the things that define us. How do we deal with adversity and how are we when things are tough. Hopefully I can help coach them through that like I have with student athletes.”

Since Gary Ehnes stepped down at the UGF Athletic Director in 2014, volleyball coach Arenas Duda and wrestling coach Caleb Schaeffer have taken on duty of running the athletics department while also leading their respective programs. Gantt commended both in his remarks on Friday. But both Argos are excited to turn their full time focus back to coaching. 

“It’s a lot on your plate when you have to do two duties,” Schaeffer said. “If you look at our finish at (NAIA wrestling) Nationals, not to make an excuse, but it’s the worst season I’ve ever had. Too many irons in the fire. So I’m really looking forward to just going back to coaching and having Dave as a resource.”

Duda agrees. 

“At this point in my personal career I’m looking for a mentor,” said the 13th year head coach. “Someone who can help us from a volleyball perspective and on the administrative side. And we got the perfect guy sitting right next door to me.”

Jumping from Gonzaga to UGF is a huge career chance but it also leads to a lifestyle change. During his time at GU, Gantt has split his time between Spokane and Bozeman where he and his wife Mary still own a house. Gantt is an avid outdoorsman but between games, recruiting and traveling he rarely had time to hit the river. But he plans to change that. Soon. 

“Sad to say I haven’t been to the river in eight years,” Gantt said. “But tomorrow someone’s picking me up at 9am and we’re going fishing1”

It appears UGF has already reeled in a catch of it’s own. Gantt’s first day at work is July 1st. 

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