High School Sports

‘Possibilities are enormous’: Northwestern names Jimmy Duncan as new athletic director

Great Falls athletic director and head boys’ basketball coach Jimmy Duncan was named athletic director of Northwestern High School on Thursday.

He’ll start his new job in January.

“I think that the possibilities are enormous, and I can’t wait to get started,” Duncan told The Herald in a phone interview.

“I think the big goals for me, right off the bat, are to increase athletic participation and student involvement as a whole. And I want to focus in on grades. I think that’s something I can bring to the table, as far as helping these student athletes prepare for post-secondary (education).”

Duncan has worked at Great Falls High School for the past six years. When he arrived, in 2013, Duncan was an assistant athletic director and assistant varsity boys’ basketball coach.

For the next two years, he was the head girls’ varsity basketball coach, before becoming the school’s head boys’ varsity basketball coach and athletic director in 2016.

As head coach the last three years, Duncan has led Great Falls deep into the playoffs twice — once to the state semifinals and once to the state quarterfinals. He accumulated a record of 48-18.

Duncan will remain working at Great Falls until his contract begins at Northwestern.

This will be the first time, Duncan said, that he will be carrying out responsibilities as athletic director and won’t be coaching.

“It’ll be an adjustment for me, and I’ll just have to focus my attention on coaching not so much as (developing) student athletes but more as developing coaches.”

He also said that he’ll miss this 2019-2020 Great Falls basketball team — a group of guys he’s known since they were in middle school.

“I have seven seniors on my team, a couple of college athletes,” Duncan said. “I mean, whoever gets that team is going to fall into a great job...

“It’s going to hurt with this group, but then I think moving forward it will ease up.”

In August, The Herald reported that Lauren West, the former athletic director at Northwestern High School, was placed on administrative leave. In the interim, Tom Sparks carried out athletic director responsibilities for the school.

“Mr. Duncan brings to our campus a great deal of experience in motivating and supporting student participation in athletics as well as providing them with the opportunities to be successful in the classroom,” said Northwestern principal Hezekiah Massey in a statement.