PROVO, Utah — Brigham Young University director of athletics Tom Holmoe today announced Kalani Fifita Sitake has been hired as the head football coach at BYU. Sitake comes to BYU from Oregon State, where he served as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.
“We are excited to announce Kalani Sitake as our new head football coach and welcome back one of our own,” Holmoe said. “He is an outstanding leader and coach, an exceptional recruiter and knows BYU through and through. We look forward to having Kalani build on the great tradition of BYU football.”
A former Cougar running back (1994, 1997-2000), Sitake returns to his alma mater with 15 years of coaching experience, including seven years a defensive coordinator and four seasons as an assistant head coach.
“I’m honored, excited and humbled by the opportunity to lead the BYU football program,” Sitake said. “I’m grateful for everything BYU gave me as a player. It’s a dream come true for me to return home. I love the university and what it stands for and I’m looking forward to helping the young men in the program reach their goals athletically, academically and spiritually. I want to thank Tom Holmoe, President Worthen and the administration for their faith and trust. I’m excited to get to work and continue the incredible legacy of BYU football.”
Prior to serving as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Oregon State in 2015, Sitake spent 10 seasons at the University of Utah. He started at Utah in 2005 as the linebackers coach and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2009 before also being named assistant head coach in 2012.
“I want to express my appreciation to Gary Andersen and Kyle Whittingham who have given me tremendous opportunities in my career and helped prepare me for the chance to be a head coach,” Sitake said. “I am forever grateful to them and all the other great coaches I’ve worked with and players I’ve coached throughout my career.”
Sitake has coached several Pac-12 and Mountain West Conference honorees, including Morris Trophy winners Star Lotulelei (2011) and Nate Orchard (2014). He also helped mentor 14 NFL Draft picks during his time at Utah, including 12 all-league players and three freshmen All-Americans. He helped the Utes win seven of eight bowl games during his tenure.
Sitake began his coaching career in 2001 as the defensive backs and special teams coach at Eastern Arizona before becoming a defensive graduate assistant at BYU in 2002. Sitake then joined the staff at Southern Utah where he coached running backs, tight ends and offensive line during the 2003 and 2004 seasons.
Born in Nuku’alofa, Tonga, and raised in Laie, Hawai’i and Provo, Utah, Sitake becomes the first FBS head football coach of Tongan descent. He is the 14th head coach in BYU history, and just the fourth since 1972, when Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards took over the program.
Sitake began his BYU playing career in 1994 prior to serving a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Oakland, California. After returning and redshirting in 1997, Sitake was a three-year starter at fullback for the Cougars from 1998-2000 under Edwards.
He was named BYU’s Football Scholar Athlete of the Year in 1998, Impact Player of the Year in 1999, along with team captain and the most valuable running back in 2000. He signed a free agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2001, but was forced to retire due to an injury.
Sitake graduated from BYU in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in English. He and his wife Timberly have three children, Skye, Sadie and Kelaokalani.