The old adage, “You can get there from here,” just keeps on truckin’ here in the Columbia Basin and the latest example just won his second NACDA Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year Award.
Moses Lake native, Northwest Athletic Conference Hall of Famer and longtime Gonzaga University A.D. Michael Roth is among 28 recipients of the NACDA Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year Award.
The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) honored Roth for the second time. He was selected at the Division I-AAA level with Creighton’s Bruce Rasmussen, Cal State Fullerton’s Jim Donovan and Florida Gulf Coast’s Ken Kavanagh.
That’s big-time stuff for a guy that got his start right here in Moses Lake. Roth is a member of the Big Bend Hall of Fame (Class of 1997) and former Runnin’ Vikings (1976-77) basketball player. After playing at
Willamette University, he made his way back to Big Bend Community College as an assistant coach (1979-82) on his way to bigger and better things.
But it all started right here.
Roth was an assistant at Spokane (1985-87) after graduating from Gonzaga University with a master’s degree in Athletic Administration in 1983 and became the Zags’ athletic director in 1998. He’s been on the Board of Directors of the Greater Spokane Sports Association since 1990.
His award spans seven divisions — FBS, FCS, Division I-AAA, Division II, Division III, NAIA and junior college/community colleges. Four winners are selected in each division. The 28 winners will receive their awards June 11 at NACDA’s 54th annual convention at the World Center Marriott Resort in Orlando, Fla.
Roth, one of seven repeat, has overseen the rise of Gonzaga’s basketball programs on the national scene. He has also overseen the upgrades of multiple facilities during his tenure. In 2003, Gonzaga added the Kermit Rudolf Fitness Center for Gonzaga students, faculty and staff. In 2004, the school opened the 6,000-seat McCarthey Athletic Center, which is the home for the men’s and women’s basketball teams.
In 2005, marked the opening of the Harry A. Green Indoor Rowing Facility, giving GU one of the most progressive indoor training facilities on the West Coast. In 2007, Roth and Gonzaga added Patterson Baseball Complex and Washington Trust Field followed by the Gonzaga Soccer Field, the Diedrick/DeLong Athletic Training Center and an academic lab in 2008.
The soccer field was dedicated as Luger Field in the summer of 2014, and most recently added lights in 2016. Roth and GU opened The Stevens Center in 2014, which is a state-of-the-art indoor tennis and golf facility that features six tennis courts and an expansive golf practice facility with four simulators.
In 2018, Gonzaga Athletics opened the Volkar Center for Athletic Achievement, a 51,240-square-foot facility that will house student-athlete support services, a weight room, nutrition center, basketball practice court, Gonzaga Athletics Hall of Fame, and multiple meeting areas.
He’s been a busy guy over the past 22 years, but here’s the one I like. In 2000, he pushed back the Y2K scare by hiring former Big Bend women’s basketball coach Kelly Graves to help turn the Zags’ women’s program around. Graves led the program to 10 straight WCC regular season titles, seven NCAA Tournament appearances, three Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight in 2011. Graves, who is another Big Bend Hall of Fame inductee, is of course at Oregon where he has the Ducks at No. 3 with the tournament on its way.
Big Bend and Moses Lake continue to develop big-time achievers. So who’s next?
Rodney Harwood is a sports writer at the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at email@example.com