Lady Griz vs. Idaho State

Montana head coach Mike Petrino, right, hugs Madi Schoening, left, following their women’s basketball game at Dahlberg Arena, Saturday, Feb. 27 in Missoula. 

MISSOULA — Mike Petrino started his college coaching career in the Mountain West Conference, and now he is making a return.

The former Montana Lady Griz interim head coach, who was replaced by Brian Holsinger in mid April, was named as an assistant coach at Boise State Wednesday by the school on social media.

Petrino didn't envision he and his family leaving Montana, his home state, after returning in August 2016. But he also understands the nature of coaching college sports and the volatile nature of the profession.

"The first thing I want to do is thank my wonderful wife Kelly and my two amazing daughters," Petrino told the Missoulian and Wednesday. "Coaching in college is a challenging profession and if you don't have the unconditional love from your family you can't make it in this business and I am very blessed that I have my wife and daughters who are still supportive of this lifestyle."

Look back at the head coaches of the University of Montana Lady Griz through the years.

Petrino adds another title to his interesting and long coaching career that spans 28 years. He started off as a high school boys hoops coach in Flathead before coaching in Montana for nine years. He later ended up in Portland, Oregon, coaching high school ball before taking the jump to Wyoming for his first college job. He left Wyoming for Missoula to come back to his home state, where after four seasons as an assistant he was named the interim coach in April 2020 not long after Shannon Schweyen's contract was not renewed.

"It's a great experience to have multiple roles," Petrino said. "That evolution of being a high school head coach, to college assistant, to interim head coach, to college assistant, every time you experience something new you learn more about it."

The move to Boise happened quick, he said.

Over the span of about eight days Petrino went from looking for work and being with his family in Missoula, to putting his Missoula home on the market after checking out the Broncos coaching staff and talking with Boise State head coach Gordy Presnell.

"It was a whirlwind transition," he said. " ... I just respect that he is a family man and has a stable staff. He has been there so long. He has assistants that have been there longer than he has. ... I think that is important when you have a stable staff."

Petrino led the Lady Griz to a 12-11 overall record and a 9-8 Big Sky mark in his one season at the helm of the program during the pandemic season. Montana played just one game in the Big Sky Conference Tournament, losing to Sacramento State.

Boise State went 14-9 and 10-8 in Mountain West play in 2020-21. The Broncos fell to Wyoming in their second game of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.

Lance Hartzler covers Griz men's basketball and prep sports for the Missoulian. Follow him on Twitter at @lance_hartz or shoot him an email at

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