When Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham saw Quin Snyder stepping down as the Utah Jazz’s leader after eight years, he sympathized with what was going through the NBA veteran’s mind.
Snyder said the team needed a new voice. After nearly a decade, he needed a new challenge himself.
“There comes a time when you need a voice and a new leader. Obviously, [Synder] he felt that was time for him right now,” Whittingham told reporters Monday at a charity golf event. “I’m getting kind of close to that in my career.”
These comments from Whittingham, 62, are a somewhat rare public acknowledgement of his eventual plans to step away from Utah football. Whittingham has been the head coach at Utah since 2005. He has been with the program since 1994, working his way up from a defensive line coach to the top position.
Just before the Rose Bowl, Whittingham told reporters he wasn’t contemplating retirement. His contract, which runs through 2027, also heavily incentivizes him to stay at Utah for the foreseeable future.
The contract contains a clause that will allow Whittingham to transition to the role of a “special assistant to the athletics director” whenever he retires. If he coaches through the end of the contract, that role will last for six years and pay him one-sixth of his total compensation.
However, the compensation decreases and his role in the AD’s office is extended, for every year he retires before that. If he retires between 2025-2027, the role will last seven years and pay one-seventh of the total compensation. Retiring on or after Dec. 31, 2024, means eight years and one-eighth of total compensation.
“I’m having as good a time right now as I’ve ever had, so I’m not even contemplating that right now,” Whittingham said in November.
It has been nearly three years since Whittingham has directly acknowledged the timeline for his departure. He said in 2019 he wouldn’t be coaching at the age of 65. This new contract, in theory, would take him to the age of 67.
But things in recent years have taken a toll on Whittingham. Utah has had two players die, with Aaron Lowe and Ty Jordan both passing away.
On top of that, Whittingham has coached through the COVID-19 season and has had to deal with the rapidly changing landscape of NIL in college football.
Another coach who recently signed a contract extension, BYU’s Kalani Sitake, said Monday there may be a day where he also needs to step back. To him, though, it is much further away.
“I’m having so much fun. Maybe there will be a time when I need to step back,” Sitake said, whose contract runs through 2027. “Until then I’m going to keep hacking away at golf and having as much fun as I can.”
Sitake has been the coach at BYU since 2016. The main concern with Sitake has not been about retirement, rather about taking a different job.
This past offseason, Sitake reportedly met with Oregon about its open head coaching position. Since, he signed an “unprecedented” extension with BYU and the athletic department has promised to make historic commitments to the program as it heads into the Big 12.