David Moats is a 2008 graduate of Guernsey-Sunrise High School. He is the son of Casey and Marian Moats, currently serving as the Boise State Director of Basketball Operations. This article was published by the Idaho Press on January 30, 2019.
This article is reprinted with permission from Idaho Press.
By B.J. Rains
BOISE — Roughly an hour after scoring the game-winning layup to lead the Boise State men’s basketball team to an improbable road win at New Mexico last February, Chandler Hutchison and the rest of the Broncos arrived at the airport in Albuquerque for their late-night charter flight back to Boise.
There was one slight problem: Hutchison, a future NBA first round draft pick, had lost his ID and wallet. Coaches and Hutchison pleaded with security on the tarmac but he wasn’t allowed on the plane.
“Everybody else got to go come home but Chandler had to stay behind in New Mexico,” Boise State director of basketball operations David Moats said.
But the whole group didn’t return home that night. Moats stayed back with Hutchison to help figure out what to do. The two got a hotel room, printed off his bio and photo from the media guide and took it back to the airport the next morning.
Moats booked the two on a commercial flight and helped convince TSA to allow Hutchison through security without an ID. They made it back to Boise that afternoon.
“Little stuff like that,” Moats said of his job description. “Things where you have to just figure it out and say ‘OK, how do we fix this?’”
It’s likely that not many Boise State basketball fans have heard of Moats, and even fewer would recognize him away from Taco Bell Arena. But without him, the program would struggle to operate smoothly.
As the director of operations, Moats keeps the program running efficiently on a day-to-day basis. He handles everything from booking flights, hotels and meals for road trips to coordinating practice times with the women’s team in the gym.
And he does it all behind the scenes with little fanfare or attention.
“The train would come off the tracks without Mr. Moats around here,” assistant coach Mike Burns said. “He really is the mortar between the bricks. The operation doesn’t work without ‘Red’ and all the things he contributes. He thinks of what needs to be done before it needs to be done and that’s just a great gift. He’s invaluable to this program.”
Moats grew up in Guernsey, Wyoming, and played for his dad Casey at Guernsey Sunrise High School. He knew from an early age that he wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps as a coach, especially when his playing career ended after two years at Northwest Junior College in Powell, Wyoming.
“I was good at taking charges and good at ball movement,” Moats joked of his basketball talents. “I knew who the good players were and I got them the ball.”
Moats transferred to Wyoming and applied to be a team manager with the Cowboys. He was hired by then-coach Heath Schroyer.
That’s also where he landed the nickname ‘Red’ soon after they met while the two were instructing a summer camp for elementary school kids.
“He forgot my name and just said, ‘You guys are with coach Red’ and it’s stuck ever since,” Moats said.
Schroyer left after Moats’ first year at Wyoming and Larry Shyatt was hired as head coach prior to his senior year. It turned out to be the big break Moats needed.
Shyatt had previously coached at Clemson and had a manager named Will Wade, who rose through the ranks and is now the head coach at LSU. Other managers under his guidance went on to become Division I coaches as well. He saw enough from Moats as a manager in their only year together that he knew the same path was possible.
So Shyatt helped Moats land a graduate assistant position at Florida, where he previously was an assistant coach for Billy Donovan, after he graduated from Wyoming in 2012.
“Red fell right in line with the previous ones I had,” Shyatt said. “He was the son of a coach so he knew what he was doing and he still has that great work ethic. He helped me so much when I first got back to Wyoming. And I wanted to help him continue his career, so I thought going to Florida would help him a great deal and I knew they would fall in love with him there, which they did.”
Moats spent the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons as a graduate assistant at Florida. The Gators went to the Elite Eight his first year, and made the Final Four his second year. He earned his masters degree in sports management at Florida and — again with the help of Shyatt — landed his first full-time job as the director of basketball operations at Weber State in 2014.
“I didn’t know what my path was going to be, I applied everywhere and had some smaller non-Division I offers, but coach Shyatt called and left me a message one day and said ‘I got you a job at Weber State, pack up your bags, that’s where you are going,’” Moats said. “I said OK. I just followed his word and packed up my bags and drove to Weber State and met the coaching staff when I got to the doors.”
Three years later he was hired as Boise State’s director of operations in June of 2017, where he’s now in the midst of his second season with the Broncos. And it didn’t take long for Boise State coach Leon Rice to realize he had made a strong hire.
“Growing up my parents used to watch the show MASH and I always thought ‘boy I’d love to have a Radar O’Reilly’, someone that reads your mind and gets it done and that’s what Red is,” Rice said. “I can’t even finish a sentence when I ask him for something and he’ll say it’s already done. He thinks ahead. He’s in the 99th percentile at his job and I don’t know who in the world could be the one percentile that’s better than him because he just does his job at the highest, highest level.
“The thing that’s so inspirational to all if us is his job is the least rewarding, the job where usually the only time you get noticed is when something goes wrong and everything is always going right for him. He’s so thorough and works so hard and just takes so much pride in it and that’s uncommon.”
Moats handles more duties than some in his position elsewhere because Boise State doesn’t have the support staff that many programs do. He works with the compliance office and academic staff, he handles all of the coaches’ scheduling and travel for recruiting, books all road trips and even has a big hand in scouting for upcoming games.
When the charter plane broke down last year after arriving in Boise to pick up the Broncos for a trip to Laramie, Wyoming, Moats exhausted all other possible ways to get the team to Wyoming before eventually finding a new charter plane that didn’t get them to the hotel until after midnight.
“We ended up losing that game the next day and I felt guilty,” Moats said. “My main thing is to make sure the coaches can worry about coaching and that’s it, and the players can worry about playing and everything else behind the scenes is done.”
Maybe the biggest thing Moats has ever planned for came last Saturday when he proposed to his girlfriend Emily Rupp while standing on a bridge over the Boise River near campus. Rupp, a graduate assistant athletic trainer for the Boise State softball team, said yes.
Moats said the best part of his job is the feeling he gets when the team wins and nothing goes wrong on a particular road trip or game day.
“Coach Rice says be a star in your role and if we complete a trip and everything goes smooth, I get pumped up,” Moats said. “I sit back and say ‘OK, let’s go get the next one.’ It jacks you up.”
The hardest part of his job is “thinking of what could go wrong and having solutions for all of that. Thinking about what if this happens, what are we going to do and just trying to have a plan for 20 different scenarios. That’s the most stressful part because you never know what could go wrong.”
But there rarely are problems with Moats in charge, and when something does go wrong, many of the times his backup plan works well enough that the players and coaches don’t even realize there was an issue.
“So many times I never even know about it,” Rice said. “He’s amazing. He really is. We’ll fly to Denver and he’ll have food waiting for us on the bus in Denver when the bus picks us up. You’re like ‘wait, how did he do that?’ And that’s important because if you didn’t plan that out it might be seven hours without eating because you have to drive to Laramie. He just takes care of all those details that could easily be overlooked.”
As good as Moats has been at this job, those around him know he’ll eventually become an even better coach. Most coaches, including Rice, start as a graduate assistant or director of operations before becoming an assistant coach and then ultimately a head coach.
Moats enjoys his current job enough that he said he’ll be picky when it comes to his next step. He would prefer to head directly to a Division I program as an assistant coach and not have to go back to JUCO or a lower level.
And it appears to only be a matter of time until that happens.
“He’ll be a terrific coach,” Rice said. “He’s a big, big part of what we do. He’s destined for some great things in this profession.”