After serving more than 30 years as an integral part of the Union College basketball program, Bob Montana is stepping down so he can move up.
The Dutchmen’s head coach for the last 17 years has announced that he is retiring from coaching and will become an assistant athletic director at Union.
Montana’s assistant, Pete Durr, will handle the day-to-day operations of the team while a national search for Montana’s replacement is conducted.
Montana’s teams won 248 games and lost 199 at Union, second only to Bill Scanlon’s program-best 315 victories. Montana was Scanlon’s assistant coach for 13 years, and he also had an administrative role at the college for one year.
Montana is leaving the game after
leading the Dutchmen to one of their best seasons. Union is coming off a 20-6 campaign that was the program’s sixth with 20 wins or more. His teams earned a berth in postseason play eight times, with two Liberty League conference championships and four appearances in the tournament’s title game.
Under Montana’s leadership, the Dutchmen participated in the NCAA Division III tournament twice and the ECAC Upstate New York postseason event five times. He was voted the Upstate Collegiate Athletic Association’s Coach of the Year twice and was named the Liberty League Coach of the Year this past season. The UCAA was the predecessor of the Liberty League.
Montana has coached two Jostens Trophy finalists in Aaron Galletta (Class of 2002) and Keven Donohue (Class of 2013). The Jostens Trophy is national honor awarded to the NCAA Division III player who excels on the floor, in the classroom and in the community.
Eight players recruited by and coached by Montana scored 1,000 or more points, including the top two scorers in program history, John Cagianello (2,006 points) and Galletta (1,949 points).
“After being part of Union College men’s basketball for the past 30 years, the past 17 as the head coach, I have decided the time has come for someone else to lead the basketball program here at Union,” said Montana. “This decision comes after much careful thought and yet with great confidence that it is the right decision.
“Being an active part of the men’s basketball program at Union Colege has given me many wonderful opportunities, the most important of all being the relationships that I have developed with so many fine young men who have played here,” he said. “The Union College men’s basketball alumni are truly a very special group of people. Their on-court and real-world successes pale in comparison to what truly good people they are.”
Montana thanked athletic director Jim McLaughlin for his support, and also gave his appreciation to Scanlon, who gave him his start with the program.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Bill Scanlon for giving me the opportunity to be his assistant 31 years ago,” Montana said. “Bill mentored me in how to teach and coach the game, and I got the opportunity to observe him coach with class for many years. I am also very thankful to [former athletic director] Dick Sakala for giving me the chance to lead this program 17 years ago, and providing me an excellent opportunity and great professional experience.”
Montana, who has also served as Union’s director of intramural athletics and recreation for the last 14 years, said he will miss the day-to-day activities of coaching.
“First and foremost, I will miss the practices,” he said. “Trying to get a group of individuals to become a team is kind of a fun thing to process. I will miss teaching the game, coaching it, and then trying to put a group of guys together that come from all over the place and mold them into a cohesive unit.”
Montana said skill development was always his priority.
“For us, at a program like Union, I really felt being a skilled team was going to be very important to our success as a program,” he said. “It was more and more challenging to get quality inside scorers over the years, so skill development and being able to shoot it, pass it and think the game were high priorities for us.”
Montana is a SUNY-Brockport graduate. He went to high school at Notre Dame of Utica, and also played at Herkimer County Community College before transferring to Brockport.
Prior to his stint at Union, he was the assistant coach at Hamilton from 1979 to 1982. Montana also coached the Adirondack Region’s open division in the Empire State Games for three years.