"I'm overwhelmed with emotion," Fish said. "I'm very excited and feel really good that an athletic director such as Peter Fields and Montana State University believes in me and is trusting me with its basketball program."
Fish, a native of Seymour, Ind., has been an assistant coach for 25 years.
Fields said the people he spoke with about Fish called him a man of great integrity who is loyal, hard-working and committed to helping student-athletes succeed.
Fish played basketball under coach Clem Haskins at Western Kentucky for two seasons before transferring to Marshall. He served as a graduate assistant to Dana Altman at Marshall then was an assistant for two years. He has also been an assistant to Billy Tubbs at TCU, an assistant and associate head coach at San Diego and an assistant to Altman at Creighton and at Oregon.
"I learned a great deal about coaching from coach Altman," Fish said, "a great deal about how to develop a team and how to bring a team along. In my six years with Billy Tubbs I learned a totally different style of basketball. We won a lot of games and I learned how to play up-tempo, and I learned a lot of things just riding in a car with him going to see a recruit."
San Diego head coach Brad Holland is "a very good coach, but was also very good at getting to know people and pushing the buttons to get the best out of them," Fish said.
It was Montana-born Holland who put the state on Fish's radar. "The pride he had in being from Montana is something I'll never forget," Fish said in a statement released by the school.
Fish takes over after the resignation of Brad Huse.
His contract offers a base salary of $145,000 and must be approved by the state Board of Regents, school officials said.
Fish will be introduced Wednesday at a campus news conference.