BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe’s semi annual Q&A Part Two

BYU AD Tom Holmoe addresses the media in his semi-annual question and answer session. (Maddi Dayton)
BYU AD Tom Holmoe addresses the media in his semi-annual question and answer session. (Maddi Dayton)

This is the second half of BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe’s semi-annual media question and answer session. The first half can be found here

BYU Athletic Director Tom Holmoe held his semi-annual question and answer session with the media on Friday morning. The conversational-style press conference focused heavily on the state of BYU football and potential Big-12 expansion. Holmoe also touched on the state of the BYU-Utah basketball game.

On the financial expectations of the ESPN deal:

“Well, we had a contract when we started. We’re making exactly what’s expected. I think, because of that contract and what we’ve been able to do with it, we’ve made more money ourselves. Not necessarily from them, but they’ve helped us increase our finances, which is a good thing.”

On future bowl games: 

“I can’t say exactly what years, but as an Independent we have Independent agreements. Last year we were either going to be in Hawaii or in Las Vegas. We ended up in Las Vegas. That was part Pac-12, part ESPN and part BYU. That’s another example of a positive. We made good money on that game because our team played well and our fans supported it. We play in the Poinsettia Bowl, the Hawaii Bowl… I can’t really name all of the ones that are coming up, but we’re out for a few more years. As long as we have the ESPN contract, we’re set.”

On BYU-Utah basketball negotiations and his displeasure:

Right now it’s probably best to not really talk about it. Both our teams are playing basketball and trying to get into the NCAA tournament. So it’s a really big distraction for the coaches and the players. I stated what I wanted to because I needed, as the Athletic Director of BYU, to let our fans know how I felt. I love the rivalry and I wanted to play it and keep it without interruption. We have a contract with them. A lot of people don’t understand, we never had a contract with Utah because they’ve always been in our conference. But because there is a contract, they have a choice. If they want to buy out of it, they can. We really can’t do anything about it. We can, potentially, have some negotiations, but at this point in time that’s not happening. We’re going to put it aside for now. My pursuit would be to get that game back as soon as we can. What that means? That’s between Utah and BYU.”

On a potential holiday tournament with in-state schools:

“I’ve been here 13 years. There’s a reason that there isn’t one. It’s hard to do. People are going to be left out. It’s like the College Football Playoff ‘Why can’t we have eight teams?’ “Why can’t we have 16 teams?’ If they could do it, they would. So why can’t we have a holiday tournament? I haven’t been one to initiate any sort of format, but I’ve talked to a lot of people that have ideas. If that was something that we had to do to get back in the game, then I’d be in favor of something. But, I don’t have something in my pocket that’s going to (make) that. I would say it would take a lot of work to get that done.”

On his relationship with Utah AD Chris Hill:

“Chris and I have been friends for a long time. People don’t realize that when we were in the Mountain West Conference together, we were allies. People don’t look at it like that. They just look at the games and think that we’re arch-rivals. But, Chris Hill has been doing this for a long time, and he’s very good at was he does. We’re friends. I don’t agree with what happened, but I’ve known him for a long time.”

On if Utah boosters reached out to him and the status of the game:

“All I can say – and I don’t want to get into the details – is I’ve talked to a lot of people on both sides. Because of what I’ve learned and heard, my take is: let’s get this game back somehow. I don’t know if we’ll get this game back next year, but we’ll get it back.

On BYU being a “dirty” team:

“Perception is important. I’ve been around sports a long time. Things happen. With social media now, everyone has a camera. You’ve got 37 angles of every game. There’s a lot of things that get picked up. I realize that there have been a couple incidents over the past couple years that haven’t shined a great light on us. As the Athletic Director, I need to be accountable for each incident. It’s like my family. If something happens in my family, I’ll take care of that. I don’t need my neighbor telling me how to discipline my kids. But we discipline our kids and we do what’s best for our kids. I know there’s a lot of people that think they know how to rehabilitate my children, but I know better. As long as I’m the AD I’m going to take care of my kids the way I think is best, not the way the neighbors think.”

On if he regrets letting Bronco Mendenhall coach the Las Vegas Bowl: 

“I would do it again. Bronco and I, for 11 years, were in the trenches together. Literally. I’m not going to throw that away. I didn’t do that to protect him, I did it because I thought it was best for BYU. It’s one of those things where another school may have done it differently, but I made a decision to do what I thought was best for BYU and our players. It didn’t have anything to do with me. I just had to make the decision. If you look at the game, I was wondering if I had made the right decision at the end of the first quarter. But by the end of the game I was really proud of the way our players and coaches finished the game. The ending wasn’t what we wanted, but there’s a lot of things that go into that decision that come from the hearts. Players and coaches and relationships. I wasn’t going to break those. Bronco wasn’t just the head coach, but he was the defensive coordinator. I didn’t want to go into that bowl game against Utah with one arm tied behind our backs. We would’ve been one coach down. If you think I was going to go call the defense, we really would’ve been in trouble. So that wasn’t a factor.”

On the Notre Dame series:

“It’s dormant. They made a decision to schedule over our remaining game, and we’ll see how that goes. We have contract protections. Notre Dame is a great university and our fans love that game. So I’ll be a little more patient to see if we can make something of that. I kind of have a cabinet of people that I trust and know. Right now it’s probably worth holding on to for a little bit. We’ll talk about it when it gets a little closer.”

“I would say that the second two-for-one series is off the table. We do definitely need to clear up the first contract. Notre Dame had a schedule agreement with the ACC and it was a great opportunity for them. To think that they joined a conference out of football was a big thing. And so for them to do that changed things and that can happen for us. So I would really be hypocritical to think that I’d hold them to the fire for doing something that’s really good for them. But we’ve played them twice out there, and they need to return this game. But the second series of three games, I understand that.”

On potential student athletes and increased cost of attendance: 

I think cost of attendance is one of the factors in recruiting now. I don’t know if it’s a huge factor because most every school that is at the table and is serious about playing has it. You really can’t manipulate it – some teams will try to manipulate it – I think that for the most part schools have their cost of attendance and it doesn’t have anything to do with athletics. I think we did it because it’s the best for our student athletes and their welfare.

On whether athlete stipends and tuition increases are sustainable: 

“Yeah, we can maintain that. I think that our fans have gotten behind it. As I explain it (to supporters) either one-on-one or in a group, that it’s in the  best interest of our student athletes. We have a tight budget, but we make a lot of money. And we should continue to look to our student athlete’s welfare. This isn’t like all of a sudden they’re rich. The cost of attendance at every school takes care of things that make life better for them. So I don’t know I wouldn’t want to be involved in that.”

On facility improvements: 

“The basketball practice facility, if you walk out there, it’s going pretty good. That was a big thing for us. Weight room expansion, we’re starting to get the bids, and that will be a benefit to us. We’ve got maybe 15-20 things on our agenda for facilities that will be improved. Not for new, huge buildings, but things that will help BYU athletics improve.”

On Taysom Hill:

“He’s a great, great kid. One of the truest competitors that we’ve ever had and a student athlete in every sense of the word. He’s given his blood, sweat and tears for BYU and I’ll support him in whatever he wants to do. We’ve talked a couple times, to help him make his decisions and I just help answer questions he may have. He is certainly in a position where he can make a decision, and it’s an important and tough one. And he has however long he needs to make that decision.”

On switching to royal blue as primary color: 

“No. We’ll wear the royal occasionally. The athletic department made the decision to change many years ago and when they did that the entire school had to change. So it’s hard for the athletic department to come back and go ‘just kidding, we’re tired of this.’ Everything around here is navy. The chemistry department is navy. You just don’t want to have a potpourri of colors splashed all over the campus. If the campus determined they wanted to do it sometime, and there was a push for that, then (maybe). But I have bigger things to think about than the color of our jerseys.”

On his role on the NCAA selection committee: 

“Great. I love the committee and this is an insane year. It’s going to be tough in that first selection week. But we’ll get them right and it’s going to be good.”

“When you get into the room, you take off your pins, buttons and logos and you don’t represent BYU. In that room it’s very, very professional. You can’t wear your allegiances on your sleeve at all.”

On how close BYU is to getting into the Big-12:

“Like I said, I monitor the situation often. But BYU has chosen to play our role in this privately. It’s how we do our business. Like I said in my first comments, we don’t try to compare ourselves to other people. Some of our fans, because ‘School A’ puts out something publicly about what they’re doing… doesn’t mean that we have to do that. I feel that we’re doing it the right way. We’re in a conference for all our other teams, the West Coast Conference, and it’s our responsibility to be a good partner in that conference and play as hard as we can and do as best we can. But, people understand that we’re not going to talk publicly about what our plans are or what our discussions are.”

On Oklahoma President David Boren’s comments:

“We just don’t feel that it’s in our best interest, or the Big-12’s to have discussions. Every time I say something, they’ll have to respond. So I don’t say anything.”



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