While the news wasn’t delivered as dramatically as last time, it’s just as huge: Kalani Sitake’s contract got extended.
The head coach, just days from kicking off his sixth season with BYU football, will stay in Provo through the 2025 season, athletic director Tom Holmoe announced on Tuesday.
Not even a full two years prior, Holmoe was seen wearing a bright blue shirt that read “#ExtendKalani” during the locker room celebration after a win over Idaho State. Two days later, Sitake officially signed his first contract extension.
Since then, Holmoe’s support of Sitake has only continued to grow.
“We are happy to sign Kalani to an extension that keeps him connected to BYU for years to come,” Holmoe said in a news release. “This is about setting our student-athletes up for success. Kalani’s culture of love and learning has created an incredible environment for his student-athletes and Cougar Nation that we are all inspired by.”
Following the mediocre 2019 season, Sitake — with support and guidance from Holmoe — led the Cougars through the unthinkable: a 2020 season.
BYU was among the first college football teams to play and for a while was the only program in the West in competition. Not only was BYU able to put together a schedule that had been torn to shatters due to cancelations or rescheduling issues, but it went on to have a historic 11-1 record.
From that success, which included a final national ranking of No. 11, BYU also produced the No. 2 NFL draft pick in Zach Wilson and a total of five draft picks.
Most recently, Sitake was integral in producing an NIL deal with Built Bars as a means to pay for all of his walk-ons’ tuition.
Because BYU is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is therefore a private institution, the school didn’t make details of the contract extension available to the public.
“I really appreciate the support for BYU football from Tom Holmoe and President [Kevin] Worthen along with all of our administration at BYU,” Sitake said in a news release. “I am excited about the future of our program and committed to continue to do everything we can for the benefit of our great student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans.”
The extension news came as the Cougars were wrapping up practice. Because Sitake leaves practice early on Tuesdays due to his coach’s show, defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki said the team wasn’t able to congratulate the head coach.
“But [there was] just total elation throughout the whole team,” Tuiaki said during a media Zoom call. “The boys were cheering when they heard. They love him as a head coach. We love him as coaches. And Cougar nation loves him, too. It means a lot to have him for that long. The administration has shown the belief in him and the direction the program is going.”
The news also means the coaching staff has the ability to stay the same for the next few seasons. BYU has made only minor changes to the staff after each of the last couple of seasons.
Because BYU hasn’t had any real major staff shakeups, the Cougars have been able to establish and keep the same offensive and defensive plans.
“There’s a lot of change that happens when you’re not doing well and a lot of change that happens when you’re doing well,” Tuiaki said. “With the type of season that we had, [for] the administration to back up Kalani and the future of this program, it means a lot. We’re in a pretty good spot.”
For defensive lineman Atunaisa Mahe, the news was “a blessing.”
Although Mahe was originally recruited by predecessor Bronco Mendenhall, Sitake took over the recruiting process and eventually got the West Jordan product to Provo.
Mahe joined the Cougars in 2018 and has been through more than the usual hand that’s dealt. The defensive lineman redshirted his first season, when he was part of the scout team, before playing in 13 games in 2019, including two starts.
However, through everything, Sitake was there.
“He’s been with me since day one,” Mahe said. “He was the one who was even there when they were thinking about whether my career could move forward. He was like ‘hey, if you feel like you could do it, as long as you put your mind to it, you can do it.’ So I’m just really grateful for him for believing in me. This is really good news for me. I’m just super excited and I’m very grateful that I get to be with a coach that I love.”