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Tom Holmoe says BYU ‘will be ready’ when COVID-19 restrictions are eased, but provides no new details on status of football season

Cougars’ athletic director spoke to fans Saturday in a three-minute “Take a Walk with Tom” video posted on Facebook and Instagram and said BYU remains vigilant even as the state begins allowing larger gatherings of people

SHARE Tom Holmoe says BYU ‘will be ready’ when COVID-19 restrictions are eased, but provides no new details on status of football season
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BYU AD Tom Holmoe and BYU football coach Kalani Sitake, shown here at a news conference on Dec. 21, 2015, when Sitake was named Bronco Mendenhall’s successor, took to social media last week to talk about the status of the program in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scott Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe took to social media on Saturday morning to assure BYU fans that the school and its coaches and student-athletes will act promptly when they are given the clearance to return to normal activities by government officials.

“So here we are — I got my mask. I took it off for this, but we are living in this COVID-land, and, at BYU and athletics, we are doing everything we can to be ready to go,” Holmoe said in a “Take a Walk with Tom” video production posted on Instagram and Facebook.

“All our Cougar teams, our coaches, our players, our student-athletes, our fans — we are going to be ready to go when they kick this thing back in,” Holmoe continued at the end of the three-minute video. “We are grateful to Gov. (Gary) Herbert, that he is opening up the state a little bit. We will follow all the regulations. But our kids are champing at the bit to get back and get ready for this season.

“We are going to play. I don’t know when, but we are going to play. And when we do it is going to be beautiful.”

Saturday was the first day that most of the state of Utah moved to the lower-risk “yellow” level of coronavirus safety measures, including Utah County where BYU is located.

“Everybody can’t wait to get back,” Holmoe concluded after reminiscing about BYU’s 1980 Holiday Bowl win over SMU, termed the “Miracle Bowl” in Provo because Jim McMahon threw a “Hail Mary” touchdown pass to Clay Brown as time expired. “Break out the blue. Rep the Y. Bring out Cosmo. Whatever it is you do on your Cougar Saturday is going to be glorious. So thank you so much for being with us. Loyal, strong and true forever and ever.”

Thursday, after the state announced it was moving to a low-risk category for COVID-19 precautions and easing up on gathering restrictions for club and youth sports — allowing up to 50 people to assemble at one time — BYU announced it would keep its facilities closed through the end of May.

“We’ve discussed contingency plans for a variety of scenarios; Currently all athletic facilities are closed through the month of May,” said Duff Tittle, BYU associate athletic director for communication. “Reconsideration of the closure period could take place if COVID-19 circumstances prompt a change in strategic directives from state leaders and the BYU administration.”

“I would (exhort) everyone to just stay positive. I know there are all these talks of things being taken away from us, but I am going to be optimistic and think this is going to be positive. There is a reason for all of it and I am really proud of all mankind and how we have been able to adjust during these times. We will thrive. We will persevere through all of it and BYU football will be stronger than ever. I am really excited about that.” — BYU football coach Kalani Sitake

Saturday marked Holmoe’s first public statement since March 17, shortly after the pandemic hit, when he said the school was already “making things rights” for athletes who were not able to complete their spring sports seasons. He also said BYU athletics was prepared to “make good” on the tickets that were purchased to home events that were canceled.

Holmoe didn’t specifically talk about the status of the 2020 college football season on Saturday. Inquiries regarding BYU’s contingency plans for various scenarios such as a delayed, shortened or canceled season have been answered by Tittle, including Deseret News questions in early May about the possibility of independents such as BYU playing each other if members of conferences opt to play only each other.

“We are in (the mix),” Tittle said on April 30. “Tom is always in contact with athletic directors all over the place as he tries to develop a full schedule. Tom has had individual conversations” with many of BYU’s fellow independents.

BYU football coach Kalani Sitake also took to social media on a variety of platforms last week as part of the school’s weeklong “Hanging with the Cougs” celebration to discuss his program’s readiness level when the pandemic ends, among other topics.

“I would (exhort) everyone to just stay positive. I know there are all these talks of things being taken away from us, but I am going to be optimistic and think this is going to be positive,” Sitake said in a Zoom meeting. “There is a reason for all of it and I am really proud of all mankind and how we have been able to adjust during these times. We will thrive. We will persevere through all of it and BYU football will be stronger than ever. I am really excited about that.”

Sitake said there has been no let-up from his players.

“I have seen with my own eyes in May that our players are stronger now and a closer unit now than they were last year,” he said. “That’s a great feeling for me and that’s why these guys want to get to that first game and get to the entire season.”