'Women in Sports' Profile: MSUB AD Krista Montague
Krista Montague has had a number of roles in the MSUB athletics department, rising to AD in the spring of 2013.
Krista Montague has had a number of roles in the MSUB athletics department, rising to AD in the spring of 2013.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Seventh in a series 

The second annual “Women in Sports” career seminar, presented by the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, will be held Saturday, Jan. 24 in Portland, Ore.

Designed for college and high school females interested in pursuing sports-related careers, the seminar will take place in the Georgia Pacific Room at Memorial Coliseum.

The event will feature panelists from a broad cross-section of occupational paths, including coaching, administration, business, marketing, media, media relations, NCAA compliance, sports medicine, ticket sales, and officiating. Attendees will have an opportunity to interact with -- and seek career advice from -- a slate of experienced sports professionals in a round-table format. 

Below is a profile on a panelist who will be featured at this year's event.

Krista Montague, Montana State Billings
Director of Athletics

Krista (Fjelstad) Montague is in her 12th year of employment at MSU Billings and her second as director of intercollegiate athletics.
During her first year at the helm of the athletic department, Montague successfully secured hosting responsibilities for the 2014 NCAA Cross Country West Regional Championships and 2014-15 Great Northwest Athletic Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships.
Montague began her employment with MSUB in July of 2002 as the department’s development and marketing director. Shortly after being hired, she was appointed to the position of senior woman administrator, making her the highest-ranking female administrator in the athletic department.

When Montana State University Billings announced the hiring of Montague as its new athletic director on May 10, 2013, it became the first NCAA institution in Montana to have a female athletic director.

In 2005, the titles of assistant AD and NCAA compliance coordinator were added to her duties, while she still managed the corporate partnership program and special events for the department. In 2009, Montague was promoted to associate AD.

As associate AD, her primary responsibilities included overseeing and managing NCAA II compliance for each of the 17 sports and co-ed cheer, as well serving as a crucial member of the athletics administration team and academic liaison between the different campus constituencies and athletics. 

Montague, a native of Eastern Montana, received her undergraduate degree in business administration with an option in marketing in 1999 from MSU Billings.  Montague was a four-year letterwinner for the MSUB women’s basketball team and left the program with the school record for career free-throw percentage. As a senior, Montague helped MSU Billings to the West Region Championship and the program's first and only Elite Eight appearance in women’s basketball.

Montague is a member of NACDA (National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics) and NACWAA (National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators), as well as various other state and local organizations. In 2011-12, she served on NACWAA’s Legislation & Governance Committee, and also served as a member of the NCAA II Softball West Regional Advisory Committee in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Before joining the MSU Billings athletic staff full time, Montague was the athletic department’s part-time corporate partnership director and held various positions for DD Marketing (Pueblo, Colo.), Norwest Bank, and Billings Clinic. 

Montague is currently pursuing a master's degree in public relations at MSU Billings.

She lives in West Billings with her husband Brent and two daughters Shayla (13) and Allie (11). 

College attended: Montana State University Billings

College major: 

  • Business Administration
  • Marketing Option

Current position: Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at Montana State University Billings

Years in current position: 1.5

Primary job responsibilities: Oversee and direct 17 NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs, including athletic training, operations, media relations, compliance, and development, as well as provide leadership for all intercollegiate athletics coaches, staff, and student-athletes. Oversee and assist the MSUB Department of Recreational Activities. Oversee and manage all MSUB university budgets which pertain to athletics and recreational activities. Oversee and manage the scheduling of the MSUB Physical Education Building, softball stadium, and soccer field.

Things I enjoy most about my job: The job is a year-long process and never really ends. I perform my duties as AD because I love how sports has the ability to enrich lives. Also, I love our institution, and of course, the student-athletes. Playing a role in something bigger than myself by helping young men and women achieve their academic and athletic goals is extremely satisfying and makes the year-long process worthwhile.

First job in the sports industry: Director of Athletics Development and Marketing at Montana State University Billings.

Previous jobs in the sports industry: 

  • Senior Woman Administrator, Associate Athletic Director, Assistant Athletic Director, NCAA Compliance Coordinator
  • Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Development and Marketing

A key mentor who helped me on my career path: One in particular: Dr. Sue Willey, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Indianapolis. Like me, she is serving the institution she attended as a student-athlete. Not only has she spent her entire career at one institution, Dr. Willey has established U-Indy as one of the top overall athletic programs in both NCAA Division II and the state of Indiana. She has graciously shared valuable tools and philosophies learned along her 38-year career in athletics with me. There are many women (and men) I have met and connected with as a member of NACWAA (National Association of Collegiate Woman Athletic Administrators). There are even those who I never actually met but was able to hear speak about their career and life experiences. Then there are those who have written books about leadership and life in general as well. This has helped me shape who I am as professional. It is important to find many mentors even if they have no idea who you are. Be a lifelong learner.

Most influential person in my early professional development: Dr. Gary Gray, University of Alaska Fairbanks Director of Athletics. Dr. Gray is the one who saw potential in me and gave me my chance in college athletics. He truly cared about my growth, supporting my endeavors as a professional and young mother, and fully embraced the role of Senior Woman Administrator. I would not be an AD today without my experiences as SWA.

How I got involved in my professional career: Right after college, my part-time summer job was to sell athletics corporate sponsorships for MSUB through a third party company. This was my first glimpse at the administration of a college athletic program and I was hooked. I knew I wanted to be part of a organization which helps young people succeed in life through education and sports.

Biggest hurdle I overcame breaking into the sports industry: After working selling corporate partnerships for two summers (along with holding other part-time jobs), I applied for the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Development and Marketing at Montana State University Billings but did not get it. A setback for sure, but when it opened up again about six months later I applied and got the job in 2002. Had I chose to be angry and resentful, I would not have applied the second time and would not be where I am today. Each setback is a lesson learned.

Key attributes that have helped shape my career path: Hard work. Always do the right thing. Find work-life balance ... this is different for everyone, but essential.

Knowing what I know now, the one thing I would do differently in college to help me on my career path: Listen (not just hear) to those around me more.

Best advice I’d give to a young female wanting to work in sports: Find your true authentic self and be that person. Know the core values which you will not compromise on, ever.

If I could spend the day with one person (past or present), who would it be? Dr. Judith Sweet. Her professional life has been dedicated to equal opportunities for all women in sport and she continues to fight for more opportunities for women in the athletic field as co-director of The Alliance of Women Coaches. We can learn a lot about our future when we truly understand our past. Student-athletes today, especially women, should understand the limitations which faced women and girls before individuals like Judy Sweet started to make a difference.

Favorite sports team: From an early age I have loved Olympic athletes and teams more than a particular sports team. The Olympics were always something we looked forward to in our house. The time and dedication these athletes commit to … for what? The love of the sport, the challenge, the opportunity to compete, and for the chance to win. To be the absolute best in the world. It is fascinating to learn the life stories of these athletes as well.

Favorite athlete: I have a lot of respect for many male and female athletes; it is impossible to pick just one. The ones I admire the most are those (at any level) who embrace their responsibilities to be positive role models for those who follow in their footsteps.

Most memorable sports-related moment: In 1999, as a basketball student-athlete for MSUB, and winning the PacWest Conference Tournament by defeating Western Washington in Bellingham. Then, a week later, defeating UC Davis on its home court for the NCAA DII West Regional championship. This two-week span was a very special time. This memorable experience is most certainly one reason why I am passionate about what I do in my career today.