BSU tennis coach Greg Patton: Passion for coaching
In typical Greg Patton fashion, he had the perfect analogy for what happened Thursday.
"I feel like I jumped out of an airplane and I'm really hoping the parachute opens up," he said.
Patton, the Boise State men's tennis coach for 22 years, resigned from his position and plans to work in the Bronco Athletic Association. Patton was the longest-tenured coach on campus, leading the team from 1993 to 1998 and from 2003 until this season.
The 65-year-old Patton won 808 matches leading the Broncos, the most among active Division I men's tennis coaches through the 2017-18 season. He took Boise State to 16 NCAA Tournament appearances, won five ITA Regional Coach of the Year Awards and was the NCAA Coach of the Year in 1997. In 2013, he was instrumental in bringing the Davis Cup to Taco Bell Arena.
A never-ending source of optimism and enthusiasm in the athletic department, Patton has known one thing — coaching. But his deep love for Boise State is almost as strong as it is for tennis.
"Now I'm getting a chance to truly help a school I believe in," Patton said. "I kind of thought 'I can be an advocate for volleyball or basketball, you name it.' I want to help tennis get a new indoor facility. I want a new scoreboard, things like that.
"They'll bury me in blue and orange. I love this place."
Beck Roghaar, a former player for Patton and the women's head coach since 2011, will take over as Boise State's director of tennis. Recently named Mountain West Coach of the Year, he will continue to coach the women's team and will oversee the men for the time being.
"Greg Patton is a legend, plain and simple," Roghaar said in a statement. "The things he has done throughout the course of his career are absolutely jaw-dropping, and he's one of the greatest college tennis coaches in the history of the sport."
Patton said a driving force behind his move was men's basketball coach Leon Rice. Earlier this year, the two worked out together and Rice mentioned needing someone like Patton as a fundraiser in the BAA. He broached the idea with Athletic Director Curt Apsey.
For Patton, it means a little less worrying — about getting an 18-year-old to commit to his school, for his own players to be healthy or stay out of trouble or do well in class. Now, he jokes that he has to put on pants and talk to people his own age for once. It also will allow him to spend more time at home and to follow the coaching career of his son Garrett, an assistant at Cal Poly.
Those reasons were put into perspective a few weeks ago when Patton's brother died. It was his third younger sibling who has died, and Patton felt a more regimented job will help him soak in those family moments a little more.
"At this stage of my life, it's truly great to have an opportunity like that," Patton said.
Coaching won't be completely out of Patton's life, as he hopes to continue to coach an American collegiate team in France's Master'U BNP Paribas International Collegiate Team Competition, which he has done since 2009.
"Not everyone will remember all the wins, but it's those guys I've coached that's the best part — and the hardest part — of this," Patton said. "It's a little scary, but it's really exciting. I'm fired up."