Provo • Two days after athletic director Tom Holmoe was seen wearing a bright blue shirt that read “#ExtendKalani” during the postgame celebrations in the locker room, Holmoe did just that.
The A.D. extended a contract to fourth-year coach Kalani Sitake that would leave him at the helm of BYU football through the 2023 season. While the details of the contract extension weren’t made available, Sitake said the necessary paperwork was finalized Monday morning.
“We are pleased to announce a contract extension for Kalani,” Holmoe said. "We believe in him and the direction of the program. Together we are committed to creating a bright future for BYU football.”
It turns out Holmoe first broke the news to the team Saturday after the Cougars defeated Idaho State 42-10 and accepted an invitation to play in the SoFi Hawai’i Bowl on Dec. 24. BYU has advanced to postseason bowls in three of Sitake’s four years.
T-Shirts like the one Holmoe was seen started making their way through the players before the game.
Defensive lineman Uriah Leiataua remembers seeing Lorenzo Fauatea with one. Then Fauatea gave one to Leiataua and Khyiris Tonga. Then they gave one to JJ Nwigwe.
Players have not been shy to talk about getting their coach the contract extension. So, when they saw the shirts, Leiataua figured it was another way to show their commitment to Sitake.
“We knew that we might get in trouble, but we didn’t care,” Leiataua said. “I forgot who made them, but Zo was the one who gave it to all of us. ... Some of us ran out of the tunnel with it. We were trying to show it, but it was kind of hard when you’re running.”
“Whoever made those shirts — shout out.”
Sitake never asked the team to make their support public, but he knows why they did it — they’re good kids and they care. When he saw the T-Shirts on the field, Sitake was touched by the sentiment.
“I think people can kind of see what we’re about and that we care about each other and care about the fans,” he said. "That got me emotional just thinking about it. It got me emotional around that time and I’m just really, really thankful to be their coach and we have such great kids.”
With the end of the regular season near, Sitake’s extension could affect the recruitment season. Having stability amongst the coaching staff for the next four years could help land talented recruits.
Of the players Sitake is currently recruiting, he doesn’t think there’s anyone who was waiting to hear this news to make their decision. He doesn’t believe his contract extension should weigh heavily on whether a student wants to sign with BYU.
“We don’t try to promote me for them coming here, it’s just promoting the school itself and the opportunities," Sitake said. “A lot of the recruiting comes down to academics and lifestyle — if they’re willing to live this lifestyle. That’s something we don’t hide, but it’s something that we elevate and think can be a huge strength for the program.”
Sitake, who became BYU’s 14th head coach in December 2015, has led the Cougars to notable wins over Wisconsin, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Tennessee, USC, Arizona and Boise State and posts a 26-23 overall record. Sitake is the first former player under Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards to become BYU’s head coach.
The Cougars are on a four-game winning streak and still have two games left this regular season. The team will travel to UMass and San Diego State over the next two weeks.
“I truly appreciate the continued support that Tom Holmoe, President Worthen and the BYU administration have for our program,” Sitake said. “I love our players, coaches and fans and I’m excited about the future of BYU football.”