PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Amid rumors and speculation that Kalani Sitake was leaving BYU for Oregon, the school stepped up and has extended its football coach through the 2027 season.
In a school release, the deal is an “unprecedented” contract extension.
“I feel like Kalani has made an incredible commitment to BYU football,” said athletic director Tom Holmoe. “He’s made a commitment to the student-athletes, he’s made a commitment to his staff, he’s made a commitment to Cougar Nation. So thus, we felt like it was imperative and very important that we made that same commitment back to him.”
“I’m really excited about this opportunity to be the head coach and to have the stability that Tom mentioned,” Sitake said. “This whole situation has never been about me. It’s been about our program.”
Sitake, who signed an extension through the 2025 season in August, reportedly interviewed for the Oregon job after Mario Cristobal left for Miami. It is unclear the level of interest Oregon had in hiring Sitake.
Holmoe called the contract extension, “unprecedented,” mainly because of the salary boost and because Sitake’s assistants and staff will receive significant raises as well.
“I believe it’s unprecedented because we have made the commitment to Kalani and his staff going forward, and for the rest of the program,” Holmoe said. “We’re going to do the things that we need to in order to bring BYU football into this modern age.”
“I feel so good,” Sitake said. “I feel so good about everything now and going into our bowl prep and our practices. It was nice to share with the players the news.”
“It was exciting,” said quarterback Jaren Hall. “We were all jumping up and down after practice. We were super excited and super happy for Kalani. I think he’s earned it with all the work he’s put in here.”
Sitake, 48-28 in his sixth season, is just the fourth head coach of the BYU football program since 1972 when Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards took over the program.
Sitake has led the Cougars to a 10-2 regular season and No. 13 College Football Playoff ranking in 2021, after an 11-1 season and No. 11 final ranking in the polls in 2020. It’s the first time BYU has had back-to-back seasons with 10 or more wins since 2008-09. Only Nick Saban at Alabama and Luke Fickell at Cincinnati have more wins over the past two seasons than Sitake, who was named a finalist for the 2020 Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year.
The Cougars beat six teams from the Power 5 in 2021, including a perfect 5-0 record against Pac-12 opponents. BYU also claimed the Beehive Boot in 2021 with in-state victories over Pac-12 champion Utah and Mountain West champion Utah State.
Holmoe is counting on Sitake to lead the Cougars into a new era when BYU joins the Big 12 Conference in 2023.
“We are now moving forward into a great future moving one more year with an independent football schedule, and then into the Big 12,” Holmoe said. “There is no one else on the planet that we’d rather do it with than coach Kalani Sitake.”
After BYU had five players selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, including quarterback Zach Wilson going No. 2 overall to the New York Jets, Sitake’s team this year has excelled under the leadership of quarterback Jaren Hall and running back Tyler Allgeier, who has more than 1,400 rushing yards while being tied for the nation’s lead with 20 rushing touchdowns.
Since being named the 14th head coach to lead the BYU program in December 2015, Sitake has led the Cougars to three bowl victories and notable wins over Utah, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Tennessee, USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State and Washington State.
Sitake’s team will finish the season against UAB in the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, on Saturday, Dec. 18, the program’s 16th bowl game in the past 17 years.
“Most of all, I just want to tell BYU fans I’m so happy,” Sitake said. “Before I was the BYU head coach and before I was a BYU football player, I was always a BYU fan. So I appreciate all the support.”