During Friday’s introductory Zoom news conference with new BYU women’s basketball coach Amber Whiting, athletic director Tom Holmoe anticipated the question before it was asked by reporters, so he brought up the issue himself. 

Did Holmoe go into the hiring process wanting to hire a woman coach?

“The answer to that is no, I didn’t,” he said. 

Whiting is the first woman to become the head coach of the BYU women’s basketball team in 25 years, when Soni Adams coached the Cougars from 1994-97. 

Whiting replaces Jeff Judkins, who was at the helm from 2001-2022

“We haven’t changed coaches in women’s basketball for 21 years,” Holmoe said. “The Jeff Judkins era was filled with a lot of wins, a lot of excitement, a lot of good players.

“Now we look to the future.”

When Judkins retired last month, Holmoe began the process of hiring a new women’s basketball coach for the first time in his career. 

“I was interested and a little curious as to what the pool would look like. We opened this up and we took applications that came in. We wanted to find the best possible coach that maybe we didn’t even know about,” Holmoe said.

“Obviously, I knew about Amber, but when candidates came in, there were good candidates and a number of women candidates. I was very excited to realize that as we continued to talk with Amber, that my interest in her as a coach continued to rise and it never stopped. We hired the best coach and she happens to be a woman. I’m super excited to have her start to take over this team right away.” 

What impressed Holmoe about Whiting was her approach and her view of the future. 

“She had a great plan in many areas. To be a college coach in any sport these days, it’s very demanding. It takes a lot of attributes. It’s not like it used to be quite a long time ago,” he said.

“As I looked through and watched and listened and debated with Amber over her qualities, she came through with a great plan. It was a plan that was far and above the best overall plans of the candidates. It was exciting to know that she has a vision that matches, or exceeds, my vision for the women’s program.”

During the many conversations Holmoe had with Whiting, he found himself answering questions. 

“She started to ask questions about what this job was about, what we wanted. That’s when I first started to feel that the things she wanted, I wanted,” Holmoe said.

“She asked about the things I was looking for. She wouldn’t just match it, she would kind of debate it. It was good to see her be able to stand for what she wanted to do, not just what I wanted to do.”

For Whiting, she can’t wait to get started. 

“We have a great group of strong players. Incredible talent. We need to start developing them in the offseason so when it comes season time, they’re ready to put it all on the table,” she said.

“I want to start with recruiting. Those relationships are super important. I feel like I can connect to players really well. Also, an emphasis with who we have right now … that’s my plan.”