2024 Montana Football HOF profile: Montana State trainer Chuck Karnop kept athletes in action

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Posted at 1:49 PM, Jun 10, 2024

BILLINGS — When the Montana Football Hall of Fame inducts its latest class a week from Saturday, one new member won't be inducted for wearing a uniform but rather living up to the critical role of keeping players in uniform.

Chuck Karnop was a jack of all trades and enters this year’s class as a hall-of-fame athletic trainer for Montana State. Raised in Harlowton, Karnop may have truly been a cowboy at heart.

He jokes about being a mediocre athlete at best but walked onto the rodeo team at MSU. That’s when he built a friendship with legendary athletic trainer Marshall Cook and the rest is history.

Karnop developed a passion for science, which he taught while coaching basketball at Ennis. He’d wrap up a master’s degree at MSU in 1967, then teach anatomy and physiology at Dickinson State.

Karnop rocketed right back to Bozeman in 1968, becoming the Bobcats’ head athletic trainer. And what a ride it was for 34 years. He was the go-to guy in every sport, meaning Karnop saw the Cats win two national football championships and nine Big Sky Conference titles. Throw in five conference basketball titles, plus a women’s NCAA Tournament ticket in 1993 against Washington and the men’s NCAA Tourney game against Syracuse in 1996. Karnop was right there for several rodeo and track and field titles, as well.

He's already in the Bobcat Athletic Hall of Fame, renowned for his willingness to mentor student trainers and student-athletes alike. He was that guy.

Chuck Karnop gave MSU athletes all he had until 2002 when he retired, but his heart is still with the Bobcats living south of Bozeman with his wife, Janie.

The Montana Football Hall of Fame ceremony starts at 6 p.m. June 22 at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center.