NIU hires Mich. St.'s Mark Montgomery

Updated: March 23, 2011, 8:58 PM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

Mark Montgomery will be named Northern Illinois new men's basketball coach, it was announced Wednesday.

An introductory news conference will be held Thursday.

Montgomery interviewed with Northern Illinois officials in DeKalb on Wednesday. It was his second interview for the position.

Montgomery has spent the last 10 years on Michigan State's staff under Tom Izzo. He was promoted to associate head coach in 2007. He was considered one of the Spartans' top recruiters and is known for his work with perimeter players.

An assistant coach at Central Michigan for four seasons prior to coaching at Michigan State, Montgomery also played at Michigan State from 1988-1992.

"I think he is a well-schooled assistant coach who has really paid his dues," ESPN recruiting coordinator Reggie Rankin said. "I think he'll be a terrific head coach. He really reminds me of [Missouri State coach] Cuonzo Martin. Montgomery played and coached at Michigan State like Martin did at Purdue, and he'll now get off on his own. I anticipate he'll do very well. He's respected and well-liked on the recruiting trail."

Illinois Fire club coach Mike Irvin, who has some of the state's premier talent, thought Northern Illinois is making a great hire as well. Montgomery had been recruiting Simeon junior forward Steve Taylor, who plays for Irvin, on behalf of Michigan State.

"I love Montgomery," Irvin said. "Mark, he's always been in here recruiting guys. He's basically in Chicago all the time. He knows Chicago. He's always in the gym, always looking. He's one of the up-and-coming coaches. His resume is impressive, what he's done at Michigan State."

Gonzaga assistant coach Ray Giacoletti and Purdue assistant coach Paul Lusk were thought to be two of the front-runners for the opening, but both pulled their names from the position on Tuesday, according to reports.

Northern Illinois used Collegiate Sports Associates to coordinate its coaching search.

Montgomery replaces Ricardo Patton at Northern Illinois. Patton was fired on March 9 after four seasons with the Huskies. He was 35-83 overall and 19-44 in the Mid-American Conference.

The Huskies graduate three players from a team that went 9-21 overall and 5-11 in the MAC this past season.

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.