“It was a long and agonizing two days, probably the hardest two days of my life, but the Naval Academy has been my life for the last 18 years and I love it here,” Niumatolo said in a statement. “I love the kids that go to school here and the people I work with. BYU was something I need to look into because of my faith and the opportunity to coach my two sons, but ultimately I decided to stay at the Naval Academy because this is the best place for me and my family and we are at peace with the decision.”
Niumatalolo, who is a devout Mormon, traveled to Provo, Utah over the weekend with his wife to meet with BYU officials. Former Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall left the school last week to take the Virginia job.
Niumatalolo is a finalist for national coach of the year, and led No. 21 Navy to a 10–2 record and a date with Pittsburgh in the Military Bowl Dec. 28, where Navy can set the school record for wins in a season. He has been head coach since 2007 and began as the team’s offensive coordinator in 2002, amassing a record of 67–37 and taking the Midshipmen to seven bowl games. He has four years left on a contract extension that pays him around $1.6 million annually.
“I’ve had some other [coaching] opportunities, wasn’t interested much in them,” Niumatalolo said Saturday evening during his postgame news conference. “This one is different because it’s who I am. It’s my faith. That’s the only reason.”
Navy fell one win short of a place in the AAC title game this season, its first as part of a conference in the football program’s 135-year history.
- Jeremy Woo