Navy officials were still awaiting word as of Tuesday night regarding the future of football Coach Ken Niumatalolo, who interviewed Monday for the impending head coaching vacancy at Brigham Young but came back to Annapolis to give the job further consideration.
BYU, meanwhile, continued its search process Tuesday by interviewing Kalani Sitake, the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for Oregon State. Sitake played fullback for the Cougars and graduated in 2000.
Niumatalolo has not spoken publicly about his meeting with Cougars officials in Provo, Utah, and his agent, Evan Beard, indicated a decision was not necessarily imminent despite initial reports suggesting the coach was close to accepting the position that came open when Bronco Mendenhall announced he was leaving for Virginia.
Beard did not return a telephone message left Tuesday night but said Monday that Niumatalolo was in no hurry to make a decision. So too did Navy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk.
“I don’t know, and I mean that sincerely,” Gladchuk said of Niumatalolo’s intentions. “I’m in a holding pattern just like you.”
A Salt Lake City television station reported Tuesday that BYU officials had not made Niumatalolo an offer and that the winningest coach in Navy history would remain with the program he’s directed to seven bowl appearances in eight years, including the upcoming Military Bowl on Dec. 28.
“Barring a dramatic turnaround, all points today look like he’s going to stay at Navy,” Dave McCann, sports anchor for KSL-TV in Salt Lake City, said during a radio interview on ESPN 700.
Niumatalolo’s interest in the BYU position in large part stems from his Mormon faith. He is a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having gone on mission for two years while attending the University of Hawaii and playing football in his home state.
Niumatalolo has spent eight full seasons in Annapolis, where he owns a 67-37 record, including an 8-0 mark against Army, and five Commander-in-Chief’s trophies. The semifinalist for national coach of the year also guided Navy within one win of a spot in the American Athletic Conference championship game this season.
The No. 21 Midshipmen (10-2), playing in a conference for the first time in 135 years of football at the academy, finished 7-1 in the AAC West Division, tied for first with Houston. Navy fell to the No. 18 Cougars, 52-31, in the final regular season game Nov. 27 to lose the tiebreaker.
Niumatalolo officially took over in 2007 for the Poinsettia Bowl after then-coach Paul Johnson announced he would be leaving for Georgia Tech.
In April 2011, Niumatalolo signed a contract extension that has four years remaining and is scheduled to pay him roughly $1.6 million per year. There is a buyout clause, but terms were unavailable. Virginia paid nearly $1.2 million to buy out Mendenhall, who will coach BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday against rival Utah.
“I’ve had some other opportunities, wasn’t interested much in them,” Niumatalolo said Saturday evening during his postgame news conference after beating Army. “This one is different because it’s who I am. It’s my faith. That’s the only reason.”