HELENA — For the first time this century, Carroll College will be looking for a new head football coach.
Mike Van Diest announced his retirement at a press conference Monday morning, stepping down from the post he’s held since 1999.
Van Diest guided the Fighting Saints to 203 wins during his 20 seasons as head coach, winning 14 Frontier Conference championships, including 12 consecutive from 2000-11, and six national titles.
Carroll hasn’t posted a winning record since 2014, though, when the Saints finished 10-2 and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the NAIA playoffs. They went 5-6 this fall after three consecutive 4-6 seasons.
Van Diest is a 1970 graduate of Helena High School and has been in the college coaching ranks since 1976 when he got his start at the University of Wyoming. Van Diest served two stints with the Cowboys — 1976-79 and 1991-98. He was also an assistant coach at Montana (1980-85), the University of Massachusetts – Amurst (1986) and Northwestern (1987-91).
Van Diest got his first head coaching job in 1999 when he succeeded Bob Petrino Sr. at Carroll College and started an unprecedented run of success. The Saints won national championships in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2010. Van Diest’s 203 career wins are the most in Carroll College football history.