UPDATE: Following the conclusion of the Las Vegas Bowl, BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe officially announced Sitake’s hire.
“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,” Holmoe said via press release.
““I’m honored, excited and humbled by the opportunity to lead the BYU football program,” Sitake said via press release. “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.”
The move comes 15 days after 11-year BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall accepted the same job at the University of Virginia.
Sitake, 40, was born in Nuku'alofa, Tonga, and is the first former BYU player to be named head football coach at the school since Edwin Kimball in 1937.
A 14-year assistant coach, Sitake has coached defense for the past 10 seasons, most recently as defensive coordinator at Oregon State in 2015.
Prior to coaching at Oregon State, Sitake was a defensive assistant at the University of Utah for nine seasons. He took over defensive coordinator duties at Utah in 2009, becoming the first Tongan to hold that position in college football’s highest division, the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Sitake added the title of assistant head coach at Utah in 2012. The Utes routinely finished with top-25 defenses during his tenure.
Prior to Utah, Sitake coached running backs, tight ends and the offensive line at Southern Utah University in 2003 and 2004.
As a player, Sitake played fullback at BYU, totaling 373 rushing yards on 86 career carries from 1994 to 2000. He served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Oakland, California, from 1995 to 1996.