Provo • In a year that has tested every collegiate athletic department across the nation, BYU’s Tom Holmoe is being recognized for going above and beyond to serve his student-athletes amid a pandemic.
Holmoe was named the Athletics Director of the Year, as announced Wednesday by the National Association of College Directors of Athletics.
The BYU AD was named one of four recipients at the FBS level, alongside Matt Hogue (Coastal Carolina), Shane Lyons (West Virginia) and Rob Mullens (Oregon). The recipients will be officially recognized at the NACDA virtual convention, July 27-28.
“If this were a career award, Tom would be among the most deserving,” BYU president Kevin J Worthen, who worked with Holmoe for six years as advancement vice president over athletics and seven years as president, said in a statement. “For the past 15 years, Tom has been a remarkably effective leader of a program that, without exception, finished in the top 50 in the Director’s Cup, often in the top 35, and usually the top non-Power-5 program.
“He has also been extremely effective as a role model and mentor for the student-athletes at BYU. He always knows exactly how many student-athletes are enrolled each semester, and often is on a first-name basis with each of them. Tom’s lifetime contributions are almost without parallel. But this is an annual award, given for performance over the past year. And, in that regard, Tom is, in my opinion, not just among the most deserving, but the most deserving,” Worthen added.
Holmoe marked 16 years on the job as BYU’s athletic director on March 1, but the last year may arguably have been the hardest to juggle of his career. The athletic director oversees 21 intercollegiate sports, involving more than 600 student-athletes and a 190-person staff.
Then add the pandemic on top of an already-demanding job. But Holmoe found a way to keep BYU Athletics successful.
Holmoe focused on individual welfare of his student-athletes and increased the amount of mental health services available within BYU Athletics. He also made it a point to listen to his student-athletes about what they needed help with.
“I recall a time during my Junior year of football where Tom invited me into his office,” former BYU linebacker Isaiah Kaufusi said in the news release. “We spoke for a very long time about football, life, school, etc. Little did he know, I was struggling at this time. I was enrolled in 14 credits, trying to balance a newborn baby boy, a recovering wife and giving my all to my team. Tom listened to me and continually listened to me as we would meet several times over the year. There is no greater feeling than having a support system who listens and understands. He gets it because he has been there before. He connects because he is a former student-athlete, professional athlete and coach. Tom got me through a tough time just by listening, understanding, and teaching.”
In his highest-profile accomplishment, the BYU athletic director was also instrumental in BYU Football’s success in the 2020 season. As the Cougars saw their once-mighty 2020 schedule get ripped to pieces due to the pandemic, Holmoe did his best to stitch it back together.
It no longer featured any Power Five opponents, but the Cougars were among the first to start their season, were the only team in the West playing for a couple of months and managed to play 12 games.
“I know he is an integral part of our success, and this year is especially a testament to that,” BYU football coach Kalani Sitake said in the release. “I feel his passion is unmatched, and his abilities to make incredible things happen in the face of seemingly impossible odds was really highlighted this year. I cannot think of a more deserving person to receive the honor of Athletic Director of the Year than Tom Holmoe.”