Jamie Pinkerton, who needed just three seasons to take the Montana softball program from startup to champion, was announced as Iowa State’s new head coach on Wednesday morning.
The 2016 and ’17 Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year, Pinkerton was an assistant at Iowa State for four years before being hired by Montana in August 2013.
Iowa State, which lost its head coach nine days ago, began its pursuit of Pinkerton last week.
“I thought my time had come and gone to ever be considered an up-and-comer, so I didn’t think an opportunity like this would ever arise,” said Pinkerton, who accepted the job on Tuesday while he was in Ames.
Jamie Trachsel, hired by Iowa State just 14 months ago, was named the new coach at Minnesota last Monday. By Tuesday, ISU administrators had reached out to their counterparts at Montana, seeking permission to talk to Pinkerton.
Recruiting last week in California, Pinkerton flew home on Friday, spent the weekend in Missoula, then traveled to Ames on Monday afternoon.
“In their eyes, obviously I was a good fit to come back, but it was not an easy decision,” said Pinkerton. “There were some deep conversations with my wife and son over the weekend.
“It was never my intention for Montana to be a stepping-stone job, but it was a decision both professionally and personally that seems to fit.”
There is the Power 5 side of it, with its multi-year contracts, attractive salaries, larger staffs and collegiate softball played at the highest level, but what tipped the scales for Pinkerton was family.
His parents and his wife Dori’s parents, all in their 70s, will now be within driving distance. And his daughter, Sarah, who will graduate with an engineering degree from Iowa State in December, has already accepted a job in Ames and will be getting married this fall.
“It was based on softball but family weighed heavily as well,” said Pinkerton, who coached Montana to 16 wins in 2015, the first year of the program. The Grizzlies won 29 games in 2016, then 35 last spring while winning the Big Sky Conference and advancing to the NCAA tournament.
“Obviously we take great pride in what we’ve been able to build here, so it wasn’t like we were looking to get out of Montana. It was a tough decision to make.”
A national search will be conducted to find Pinkerton’s replacement.