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WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Skip Molitor, a one-time player at Gonzaga University and a former assistant coach in five NCAA Division I programs, has served as the men's basketball coach at Whitman College since May, 1994.
Before coming to Whitman, Molitor was an assistant coach the previous three seasons at Colorado State University. His assistant coaching experience also includes two years at the University of Montana, two years at the University of Santa Clara, one year at Washington State University, and one year at Gonzaga University.
Molitor also served as the head coach at Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane for five seasons in the 1980s and coached for three seasons at two high schools in Montana in the late 1970s.
In taking the head coaching position at Whitman, Molitor remarked: "I'm leaving a very good situation at Colorado State, and I'm only doing so because I'm very excited about the opportunity at Whitman. From an academic standpoint, Whitman is one of the best schools in the country, and I'm excited about coaching in that type of environment. Whitman has a number of athletic programs that are doing very well, and there is a strong commitment on the part of the college president to giving athletics the support it needs."
Molitor came highly recommended from a number of sources, Whitman President Tom Cronin said in announcing Molitor's appointment.
"Skip has strong ties throughout the West, and he's held in very high regard by top coaches across the country, including those at Cornell, Stanford and Washington," Cronin said. "Skip believes in the liberal arts college setting, understands the value of athletics in a small-college environment, and plans to work closely with the faculty and with the rest of the campus. We think Skip has the ability to recruit outstanding students who are also are fine basketball players."
One coach who recommended Molitor was Mike Montgomery, who heads the program at Stanford University. "Being the basketball coach at Stanford, I certainly understand what types of problems are associated with the recruitment, admission and the academic pressure of (Whitman) student-athletes," Montgomery said. "It takes a special type of person to keep in perspective the balance that is required at a college or university such as ours. Skip is ideally suited for the challenge, as he has a strong belief in the role of athletics in a strong academic environment."
Molitor, a graduate of Ephrata (Wash.) High School, was a two-year starter as a 6-foot-2 point guard in his collegiate playing days at Gonzaga University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in English and education in 1974. He completed his master's degree in guidance and counseling at Gonzaga in 1978.
Molitor understands as well as anyone that recruiting within Whitman's demanding academic standards is challenging. "At the same time, when you are successful in attracting high-caliber student-athletes to your program, it's in their nature to produce, whether it's in the classroom or on the basketball floor," Molitor said. "Some of the best players I've ever coached at the college level have been gifted students as well. You deal with overachievers."
Molitor said Whitman's tradition of academic excellence is a strong recruiting tool. Whitman has the highest retention and graduation rate of any college or university in the Northwest, and a high percentage of its students eventually enroll in graduate school programs.
"Whitman is a great example of an institution that allows its student-athletes to compete at a very high level and still receive a wonderful education," Molitor said. "I think that puts us in a very strong recruiting position."
In addition to his coaching duties, Molitor is an associate professor in Whitman's Department of Sport Studies, Recreation and Athletics. He is married to Amy Molitor, a lecturer in Whitman's environmental studies program. They are the parents of two young daughters, Denali and Kiani.