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BYU’s Tom Holmoe named national Athletic Director of the Year

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BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe is in the process of unwinding the Cougars’ future football schedules as the school prepares to join the Big 12 conference in 2023.

Brigham Young Cougars head coach Kalani Sitake celebrates the win over the UCF Knights with athletic director Tom Holmoe the Boca Raton Bowl in Boca Raton, Fla., on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020. BYU won 49-23. Holmoe was named Athletic Director of the Year by by the National Association of College Directors of Athletics on Wednesday.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

It’s been a busy year for Tom Holmoe, as BYU’s athletic director helped navigate the school’s athletic programs through the COVID-19 pandemic.

And now, the work reaped a reward as Holmoe was named the Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association of College Directors of Athletics on Wednesday.

“If this were a career award, Tom would be among the most deserving,” BYU president Kevin J Worthen said in a statement. “For the past 15 years, Tom has been a remarkably effective leader of a program that, without exception, finished in the top 50 in the Director’s Cup, often in the top 35, and usually the top non-Power Five program. He has also been extremely effective as a role model and mentor for the student­-athletes at BYU. He always knows exactly how many student-athletes are enrolled each semester, and often is on a first-name basis with each of them.

“Tom’s lifetime contributions are almost without parallel. But this is an annual award, given for performance over the past year. And, in that regard, Tom is, in my opinion, not just among the most deserving, but the most deserving.”

Holmoe has served as BYU’s athletic director since March 1, 2005. As part of that position, he oversees the Cougars’ 21 intercollegiate programs, which includes more than 600 student-athletes and a 190-person athletics staff.

Holmoe has been at the forefront of the school’s athletics during the pandemic. In the classroom, every team had an average GPA of 3.0 or higher during the past winter semester, per the school. That includes a cumulative GPA of 3.5 for all student-athletes. 

During the past year, social issues — specifically involving diversity, inclusion and racial equality — have been in the limelight throughout the country. “Holmoe encouraged teams to meet together, have discussions and decide what they wanted to do,” BYU said in a news release, and last month, he hired Whitney Johnson to serve as associate athletic director of student-athlete development, diversity and inclusion. 

Last fall, the BYU football team wore shirts that said “Love One Another” as part of their warm-up gear. The BYU Store sold shirts displaying the same message and the $100,000 profit from those sales has gone toward scholarships for students of color on campus. It’s helped fund 63 scholarships, according to the school.  

“Most impressively, Tom continued his role as mentor to the more than 600 student-athletes at BYU who are facing not only the normal academic and athletic pressures, but also a worldwide pandemic,” Worthen said. “And it is this role and focus Tom enjoys most. He is an extraordinary athletic director, who has had an extraordinary year. There could not be a better choice for this award.”

Holmoe, too, served as the face of the All In campaign, a fundraising effort to help overcome a $20 million athletic department shortfall due to the pandemic. So far, the efforts have raised over $15 million in donations from more than 7,000 donors.

Holmoe has also been recognized for his work revamping the program’s football schedule this past season that resulted in BYU going 11-1 and finishing the 2020 season No. 11 in the final Associated Press poll. This came after BYU’s original schedule had eight games canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which left Holmoe with the task of finding new opponents — many of whom BYU had never played — to fill out its schedule.

“I could give hundreds of examples and stories of Tom being an exceptional AD and leader,” BYU football coach Kalani Sitake said as part of a letter of support to NACDA for the award. “If you ever want to know how I personally feel about him, just listen to my postgame press conferences or media video clips during the week. I make it a point to thank Tom for his efforts, because I truly appreciate all that he does for me personally and for the football program.

“I know he is an integral part of our success, and this year is especially a testament to that. I feel his passion is unmatched, and his abilities to make incredible things happen in the face of seemingly impossible odds was really highlighted this year. I cannot think of a more deserving person to receive the honor of athletic director of the year than Tom Holmoe.”