Marty Holly

C of I Athletic Director is a Coyote for life

Much has changed for The College of Idaho athletics department since 1981.

Coyote teams played four intercollegiate sports back then. Today, they compete in 20.

One phone line was dedicated to athletics in those days. Today, there are more than 30.

The College did not have a single track athlete in 1981 – or for 20 years thereafter, for that matter. Last season alone, Coyote runners brought home six NAIA national championships.

Through it all, one thing has remained constant: Marty Holly, the stalwart athletic director under whose leadership the Coyotes have become one of America’s most successful small college programs.

“What I love about The College of Idaho and what has kept me here such a long time is the uniqueness of this place,” Holly said. “This school has had its ups and downs for 100 years, but through it all, it remains a community of great people who care about each other and our students. That’s the truth.”

Holly, a California native, earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Pepperdine in 1969 and completed a master’s in athletic administration in 1980 at Idaho State. The next year, he joined the College as director of athletics and men’s basketball coach.

It was a perfect match. The Coyotes became a national powerhouse under Holly, amassing a 423-156 record and winning the 1996 NAIA Division II national championship. After 19 years at the helm, Holly stepped down as coach and channeled all of his trademark passion into directing Coyote athletics - a job for which he recently was named the 2013 NAIA Athletic Director of the Year.

According to volleyball coach Liz Mendiola ’96, the fiery enthusiasm that made Holly such a successful coach is a big reason for his success as an administrator.

“Marty is passionate,” Mendiola said. “He cares about the student-athletes, he cares about us as coaches and he’s willing to do anything within his power to help us succeed. I think as coaches and as competitors, it’s pretty easy to feed off that passion.”

Without the aid of a time-lapse camera, it is difficult to fathom how much Coyote athletics have grown during Holly’s 32 years of leadership. The College has added women’s basketball, soccer, track, cross country, baseball, softball, golf, tennis, swimming, lacrosse and now football to its list of intercollegiate offerings while building multiple new facilitates including the J.A. Albertson Activities Center, Wolfe Field Baseball Stadium, Symms Athletic Field and the currently-under-construction Marty Holly Athletics Center, which the College named in his honor.

The recent reinstatement of football is among the largest and most-publicized undertakings of Holly’s career, but for those who know him best, it’s just the latest on a monumental list of accomplishments.

“It’s pretty astonishing when you put a timeline on it,” track and field coach Pat McCurry said. “I don’t know of another college athletics program that has seen the level of growth that the College has seen under Marty.”

Perhaps Holly’s most impressive achievement has been keeping a staff of successful coaches intact. From Mendiola and McCurry to women’s basketball coach Reagan Rossi, baseball coach Shawn Humberger, tennis coach Cisco Limbago and ski coach Ron Bonneau, the athletics office is full of championship-winning coaches who have been at the College for a decade or longer.  

“I just have so much respect for Marty because I know how much he cares about not only my program, but also me as a coach and a friend,” Mendiola said. “He’s someone I don’t want to disappoint.” 

Added McCurry: “Marty supports us all the way, but he also lets us have our own visions for our programs. And he’s authentic. We call him after a win, and he gets choked up on the phone. Not a lot of ADs will tear up over women’s cross country titles, but he does, and it’s genuine.” 

Most administrators with Holly’s track record would have moved on long ago. But for Holly, no amount of money or prestige could ever replace the love he has for Coyote athletics.

“I’ve had opportunities to go other places, and I’m so thankful that I didn’t,” Holly said. “This is where I need to be and this is where I belong.”