Executive Director Matt Santangelo leaving Hoopfest

<p><p>Hoopfest Executive Director Matt Santangelo is leaving the organization for a job in the medical device sales industry. </p></p><p><p>Santangelo’s last official day is Nov. 30, but he is expected to remain in close consultation with the organization as it searches for a replacement. The process of hiring a new executive director already has begun, according to a news release issued by the Spokane Hoopfest Association on Tuesday.</p></p><p><p>Santangelo has been the basketball nonprofit’s leader for nearly eight years, most recently navigating it through the unprecedented challenges brought on by COVID-19.</p></p><p><p>Hoopfest touts itself as the largest 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the world, but it was forced to cancel the previous two years due to the pandemic. Santangelo is optimistic Hoopfest will return in 2022.</p></p><p><p>“I feel really good about Hoopfest in June, and I also feel really good about the organization being able to transition. I’m completely committed personally to making sure that transition happens really smoothly and successfully,” Santangelo said.</p></p><p><p>With a change in leadership and the first expected tournament since 2019, Santangelo said this is the perfect opportunity “for the organization to do a little bit of a reset.”</p></p><p><p>Now, he’s taking on a new role as a territory business manager for the advanced surgery division of Baxter International, an international health care company.</p></p><p><p>“There’s lots of former Zags and teammates and athletes in that particular field, so it’s one that I was attracted to for various reasons,” Santangelo said.</p></p><p><p>Despite his departure, don’t expect to see a Hoopfest without the Santangelo family roaming the courts.</p></p><p><p>He’ll still be based in the Inland Northwest in his new position at Baxter, and he’s already committed to volunteering in future Hoopfests.</p></p><p><p>“Hoopfest is in such good hands … I knew that going into the decision, so it was just affirmed again after I was able to vocalize it,” Santangelo said, crediting board members and volunteers with quickly offering their support upon hearing the news.</p></p><p><p>Prior to 2020, highlights under Santangelo’s tenure included an appearance by NBA star Kevin Durant in 2017 and live coverage from ESPN’s SportsCenter in 2014.</p></p><p><p>Santangelo also lived through the hottest-ever Hoopfest, he noted, when a record heat wave landed in Spokane in 2015.</p></p><p><p>“We have been very privileged to have Matt as our Executive Director for the past seven-and-a-half years. He has done an outstanding job carrying on the tradition of Hoopfest and expanding our programs,” Spokane Hoopfest co-founder and Board Member Rick Betts said in a statement.</p></p>