BYU athletics prepare for new chapter in Big 12 conference

Tom Holmoe discusses the future of BYU athletics as they begin their new chapter in the Big 12. BYU athletics is focused on ways to spread the gospel as they join the Big 12 conference. (Ethan Porter)

BYU athletics director Tom Holmoe discussed the future of BYU athletics at the Varsity Theater during Education Week on Wednesday, Aug. 23.

Holmoe focused on the next chapter of BYU athletics as they begin their first year in the Big 12 conference. He began by expressing his gratitude for past BYU coaches, including Lavell Edwards and Stan Watts, who Holmoe said helped shape BYU athletics.

“This is an era that was able to come true and the dream realized because of many, many others from decades past,” Holmoe said.

BYU’s decision to join the Big 12 was important for the stability of BYU athletics, according to Holmoe. He said the instability of college athletics is a concern for some.

Strong Power Five conferences like the Pac 12 have dissolved recently due to the instability in college athletics, according to Holmoe.

“My approach to this is we are in a good spot, right now BYU is in a stable spot,” Holmoe said.

As BYU joins the Big 12, they will receive a portion of the $2.2 billion media rights deal that the Big 12 signed with ESPN and Fox Sports to help fund BYU athletics, Holmoe said.

“We’re in a better financial spot initially for stability,” Holmoe said.

Holmoe explained how the university is preparing to use the money effectively as they distribute the funds to each of the athletic departments.

Additionally, as BYU prepares to join the Big 12, they will have the opportunity to represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

According to Holmoe, many fans and athletes in the Big 12 don’t know that BYU is a Church-affiliated university.

BYU fans and athletes have an “incredible opportunity” to help spread the gospel through athletic events all across the nation, Holmoe said.

Holmoe encouraged Education Week participants to talk to fans of opposing teams about the role of missionary service and what student-athletes give up to serve missions.

The BYU football team has 65 missionaries who have served in 29 countries and speak 15 different languages, according to Holmoe.

Holmoe quoted former Young Women General President, Sister Bonnie H. Corden, who said, “Never give up an opportunity to serve Christ,” in the April 2023 session of General Conference.

According to Holmoe, people associated with BYU have an opportunity to be part of the team and help spread the message of the gospel.

Corwin Lewis, an event participant from Orem, said that spreading the message of the gospel is the most important aspect of athletics at BYU.

“They don’t need to be proselyting obviously, or even any direct proselyting, they just need to be an example,” Lewis said.

Holmoe compared a quote by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland who said, “BYU is the most visible extension of the Church,” and a Lipman-Hearne brand study that said, “Athletics is the most visible extension of BYU.”

Holmoe noted that for many people, the only exposure to the Church or BYU will come through BYU athletics.

“You’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression, so make a great first impression,” Holmoe said.

Garry True, a resident from Sandy who visited the event, said he was happy to know that BYU would not compromise its mission statement as it joins the Big 12.

“They are always going to take care of the athletes, they are about exposure to the Church and having the Church mission and missionaries be a big part of the messages coming across,” True said.

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