MISSOULA — Shannon Schweyen's four-year stint as head coach of the Montana women's basketball team has come to an end.
Schweyen was informed by Grizzlies athletic director Kent Haslam on Wednesday that her contract will not be renewed. The Billings native said she was offered a new two-year deal by Haslam after the Big Sky Conference tournament in Boise, Idaho, in March, but Haslam changed course.
"For the past 32 years my life has been devoted to the University of Montana and Lady Griz basketball," Schweyen told 406mtsports.com, her voice cracking. "I feel privileged to have spent my career here, supported by amazing fans and an amazing coach in Robin Selvig.
"After three difficult years with the injuries and everything, in our first healthy season I'm proud of what my players accomplished this last year. Unfortunately it wasn't enough. For me it's very sad."
Haslam did not return messages left by 406mtsports.com late Wednesday afternoon.
Schweyen posted a 52-69 record in four seasons. Working under a one-year contract she signed last spring, she appeared to turn a corner this winter in posting a 17-13 mark.
Schweyen's inability to retain players with eligibility likely hurt her cause. Last week senior-to-be Gabi Harrington transferred to Idaho. On Tuesday, junior-to-be Kylie Frohlich entered the NCAA transfer portal.
Guard Sammy Fatkin left the 2019-20 team in December. Guard Katie Mayhue transferred to Texas-Arlington last April. Hailey Nicholson, Sierra Anderson, Nora Klick and Caitlin Lonergan all left at the end of the 2017-18 season with eligibility remaining.
"Honestly it just breaks my heart for her and her family," said McKenzie Johnston, Montana's starting point guard this past season. "I know she was excited to get going for next year and looking forward to it. I feel really bad for her.
"I was glad I had her as my coach. She's a knowledgeable coach and it's tough to see that happening to her, especially with everything going on outside of basketball right now."
Schweyen had tough shoes to fill in succeeding the Lady Griz legend Selvig. She posted a 7-23 mark her first season after several key injuries.
Schweyen also struggled against archrival Montana State. The Bobcats have beaten the Lady Griz in seven of their last eight meetings.
Schweyen has two daughters on the Lady Griz team, Jordyn and Shelby, who both redshirted this season. Her husband, Brian, is head men's and women's track and field coach at Montana.
Widely recognized as the greatest to ever play for the Lady Griz, Schweyen just finished her 28th year on the coaching staff. She was an assistant under Selvig for 24 years.
As a player, Shannon (Cate) Schweyen earned honorable mention All-America honors as a sophomore and junior. Then she became the Big Sky Conference’s only first-team Kodak All-American as a senior in 1991-92. That honor was recognized in 2014 as No. 3 on the list of “25 Greatest Women’s Moments” in Big Sky history.
Schweyen finished her career as the Big Sky’s leading scorer among both men and women with 2,172 points. She still owns numerous school and Big Sky records after averaging 18.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game for her four-year career.
Schweyen, whose No. 21 jersey was retired following her collegiate career, was inducted into the Grizzly Sports Hall of Fame in 1998. She played professionally in Spain briefly in 1992 before returning to Montana to join the Lady Griz coaching staff.
In high school, Schweyen was a three-time state tournament MVP at Billings Central and was the Gatorade Montana Player of the Year in 1988.
Bill Speltz is Missoulian Sports Editor and has served as Sunday columnist the past 14 years. Do you have a story idea? Email Bill at email@example.com.