‘This is our forever place’: Former Gonzaga AD Mike Roth has made Spokane home for good

Like many Gonzaga alum, Roth continues to call Spokane home
WCC/Gonzaga

Former Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth didn’t have to question where he and his family would live once he retired from his post in 2021.

Over half of Roth’s life had been dedicated to Gonzaga, as he spent the previous 34 years in leadership roles within the athletic department including 24 years as the athletic director. He was a grad assistant on the men’s basketball team in 1982-83 before eventually returning to Spokane in 1987, when the school was looking for a director to manage the newly built Martin Centre Fieldhouse. Since then, Spokane is all Roth has known.

And he doesn’t plan on changing that anytime soon.

“For me, I spent 30 something years, more than half of my life, working at Gonzaga and yet people still ask, ‘so where are you going to live now that you’ve retired?’” Roth said. “We’re gonna live in Spokane. I mean this is our home. We have no plans of ever leaving Spokane, it’s our forever place.”

Roth is far from the only Gonzaga alum that continues to call Spokane home. Many former men’s basketball players have returned to the Inland Northwest after their playing career is finished. Even some of the more recent alum who currently play in the NBA often return to campus when their schedule allows for it.

“There’s something special about not only playing for Gonzaga University, but playing for Gonzaga University in Spokane that draws whether Dan Dickau back, Cory Violette back, or Matt Santangelo back or Richie Frahm back,” Roth said. “Again, now some of the more recent grads its the same thing. Since [1999], Adam [Morrison] is the only Spokane kid that grew up here. Everybody else grew up someplace else in the country, or for that matter out of the country.”

“I’m always amazed by it,” Roth said. “I think it’s the combination of the Gonzaga piece and then the Spokane piece … I see it as a confirmation that we have done it right. We, Gonzaga, have done it right. We brought in the right kind of student-athlete who fit Gonzaga and also Spokane and it doesn’t matter where you originated from. Whether you originated from Vancouver, Washington, or you originated from Brazil, Spokane is always gonna hold a special place in your heart.”

Roth shared what makes Gonzaga and Spokane a special place for him and so many former Zags on an episode of Gonzaga Nation.

WATCH THE FULL EPISODE BELOW:

Produced by Thomas Gallagher.

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Cole Forsman

COLE FORSMAN

Cole Forsman is a reporter for Gonzaga Nation, a member of Sports Illustrated’s FanNation network. Cole holds a degree in Journalism and Sports Management from Gonzaga University.