MISSOULA — After winning the Big Sky Coach of the Year Award in his first season, Montana director of athletics Kent Haslam has removed the interim tag from head men's tennis coach Jason Brown's title, officially making him the 24th head coach in program history.
Brown was elevated to interim head coach in the summer of 2017 after five years as an assistant under 30-year veteran head coach Kris Nord. Nord stepped away from tennis in 2017 to lead Montana's golf team.
"We are excited to remove the interim tag from Jason and welcome him officially as our newest head coach," Haslam said.
"He is coming off a great season leading our men's tennis team and has been trained extremely well by Kris Nord. He has a great passion for the tennis program and the University of Montana. I am excited for Jason and his family."
Brown — a UM alumnus and Conrad, Montana, native — began assisting Nord in 2013. In 2014 he helped lead the Griz to the program's first-ever Big Sky Conference Championship, advancing on to face Oklahoma in the NCAA tournament.
He helped lead the Grizzlies back to the Big Sky title match in 2017 after UM upset No. 1 ranked Northern Arizona in the semifinal. As the interim head coach, he led the Griz back to the conference title match for a second-straight year. After a historic season in 2018, he was voted Big Sky Coach of the Year by his peers around the league.
"I am honored to accept the position of head men's tennis coach here at the University of Montana. Anyone who knows me has had no choice but to constantly hear about the passion I have for this program and its players. This job combines two of the main things I have loved for my entire life: Grizzly Athletics and the sport of tennis. It is an actual dream come true for me," Brown said.
"I want to give a massive thank you to Kris Nord for making this a possibility. Having the opportunity to assist and learn from him and share in some of the success he has built with this program has been the perfect preparation for me.
"I would also like to thank Kent Haslam, Greg Sundberg, and the rest of the athletic department administration for the putting their faith in me to continue to build on the amazing year we had last year and on into the future."
Brown and the Grizzlies had one of the best seasons ever at UM in 2018, advancing to the Big Sky title match for the sixth time in program history, and the league's championship tournament for a 28th-straight year.
In the fall tournament season, senior Victor Casadevall became the first-ever Grizzly to advance to the quarterfinal of the ITA Mountain Region Tournament. Casadevall would go on to finish the season as the third player in school history to earn a regional ITA ranking at No. 19.
Senior Yannick Schmidl also made Griz history in 2018 under Brown, earning the program's first-ever ITA Mountain Region Year-End Award as its Most Improved Senior. Schmidl and his doubles partner Alexander Canellopoulos also became the first-ever Grizzlies to earn an ITA national ranking in 2018, coming in at No. 77. Both Schmidl and Casadevall were named first-team All-Big Sky performers.
Brown helped mentor 2014 Big Sky MVP and first team all-conference member Andrew Warren, as well as 2014 Big Sky Scholar-Athlete Ethan Vaughn.
He also helped develop two-time first-team All-Big Sky players Casadevall (2016 and 2018), and Semion Branzburg (2014 and 2015).
Since Brown joined the program as an assistant, the Grizzlies are 59-44 overall and 41-13 in Big Sky play.
With Brown's assistance, the Grizzlies have placed a total of 30 players on Academic All-Big Sky teams since 2014.
Brown spent time with the Grizzlies as a walk-on under Nord at UM and began his coaching career at the high school level, coaching for both Missoula Big Sky and Missoula Sentinel.