MISSOULA — No decision has been made regarding the future of Montana football coach Bob Stitt as of Sunday evening.
Montana athletic director Kent Haslam said in a phone call that he expects a decision to be made as soon as this week as the emotions from Saturday's loss to Montana State begin to subside and he has a chance to talk with Stitt.
"I think it's important to let the emotion settle and then have a chance to sit down and visit with Coach Stitt," Haslam said. "I deal with coaches at the end of the year all the time and I think that's a good time to sit down and evaluate and see where things are going and make decisions from there. I understand that his contract expires at the end of January and that's a pressing thing we need to visit about. That'll come this week as we work through the week."
Haslam said he hesitates when it comes to giving a timeline regarding the situation, but he's aware of the importance of timeliness.
"You want to make decisions as quickly as you can. There's no doubt that," Haslam said.
"But I think it's important that you work through some of the emotion that you have and then start to evaluate things more critically and more thoughtfully. Timelines — always a little hesitant on timelines because you never know what tomorrow might present or what Tuesday, or whatever might happen.
"Now we know our season's officially over, kind of thought that would be the case but until they make the announcements on the playoffs, now we know that we're moving into the offseason and the season is officially over and can start to work through the things that need to be decided moving forward."
Haslam said he's looking at various criteria this week regarding the football program to help in his decision making process.
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"I think you look at the overall health of the program. I think you look at the direction that it's going," Haslam said. "I think that you evaluate the confidence level of the supporters, of the university, of the student athletes — all those type of things come into play.
"Most importantly, are you heading on a path that is taking you in the direction that you want and what you expect. That comes from all phases, but certainly, performance on the field is a key part of that. You bring in other key evaluators as well — academics, community and culture and all those types of things. It's a results-oriented business and no more so at the University of Montana. That's certainly part of what you have to look at."
Stitt has compiled a 21-14 record in his three years at Montana. His overall coaching record is 130-76 through 16 years.
Under Stitt's leadership, Montana failed to make the playoffs in 2016 and 2017, marking the first time the Grizzlies went without postseason appearances in back-to-back seasons since 1991-92.
Boosters, alumni and fans have let their various feelings be known on social media and in emails.
"First, I appreciate the passion. If there wasn't passion, then this wouldn't be a great place to be," Haslam said of the fan base. "That's first and foremost. I understand the passion. I understand the value. I understand the importance. I completely get that.
"I want what is best for the University of Montana, the football student athletes, the program, all of those things. I'm well aware of that. I understand the dynamic. I appreciate the passion. ... I'm grateful for it. The opposite is that no one cares and no one wants to be there."
Haslam also said there haven't been any coaching staff changes regarding assistants as of Sunday evening that he's aware of.