In his speech at Big Sky High School's graduation Saturday, former Lady Griz basketball coach Robin Selvig plagiarized parts of a Great Falls Tribune article.
Selvig, who coached the Lady Griz for 38 years, was asked to speak because of his many years as a strong and well-loved leader in the community.
During his speech, Selvig told a story about LeAnn Montes, a student-athlete and enrolled member of the Chippewa Cree tribe who was inducted into the Montana Indian Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014. She studied at the University of Montana while playing basketball and raising her daughter. After graduating, Montes went to law school in New Mexico and became an attorney on the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, according to the Tribune story.
Selvig began his story about Montes with a word-for-word recitation of the opening paragraph of the Tribune story, saying, "There is a stale and misinformed stereotype of Native Americans as underachievers — that despite intelligence and aptitude, Native Americans students never live up to their potential. LeAnn Montes is living proof of just how wrong that stereotype is."
Selvig did not credit the writer, David Murray, for the sections of the article he used in his speech.
He said in an interview later that he should have credited the article, and he felt "terrible" and plans to apologize to Murray. Murray could not be reached for comment Saturday.
"I specifically looked at different things on LeAnn and liked what he had said, and I apparently plagiarized some of it," Selvig said. "I should have told where I got some of that stuff. I know plenty about (Montes), I just liked that."
He included Montes in his speech because she is "a tremendous role model, and an inspiration to me," Selvig told the Big Sky students seated before him in the Adams Event Center.
Selvig used other phrases from the article in his speech almost word for word, totaling about seven paragraphs. He said the article captured the chronology of Montes' story well, which is why he used it.
"One year before her award-winning season in high school athletics, Montes gave birth to a daughter," Selvig said in his speech, using a paragraph from the article. "Despite the challenges she faced as a young, single-parent, Montes was determined play basketball at the next level and to obtain her college degree."
"You screw up speaking sometimes," Selvig said. "But I'm not trying to hide it, I didn't really think that it would be a deal at all."
He said he hopes any articles written about his speech will give credit to Murray for his words.