BYU Makes Historic Hire Promoting Diljeet Taylor To Women’s Cross Country Coach

Jul 20, 2021, 5:38 PM | Updated: 5:53 pm
Diljeet Taylor - BYU Cross Country...
BYU promoted Diljeet Taylor to head coach of Women's Cross Country. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)
(Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – BYU athletics made a splash when they announced their new women’s cross country coach on Tuesday. Diljeet Taylor was promoted from Associate Director of Cross Country and Track & Field to Head Women’s Cross Country coach.

Taylor has been part of the BYU cross country program since 2016.

She now earns the head coach title, which is historic for the Cougars. Why? Taylor, of Indian descent, grew up in the Sikh religion. She is not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the sponsor of Brigham Young University.

At the end of the press release announcing Taylor’s promotion, BYU stated, “While in the past head coaches throughout BYU Athletics have often been members of the church, it has been a practice but not a policy.”

Do BYU coaches need to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

That’s a noteworthy statement as BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe has expressed in the past when hiring for football or the men’s basketball positions; he has stated that the head coach needed to be an active member of the Latter-day Saint church.

Back in the 90s, former BYU AD Rondo Fehlberg, when looking for a new men’s basketball coach to replace Roger Reid, didn’t rule out the possibility of hiring a non-Latter-day Saint head coach. Fehlberg interviewed the former Utah Valley State College (now Utah Valley University), Jeff Reinert, during that search. BYU later went on to hire Steve Cleveland, a member of the Church.

During Fehlberg’s time as AD, he did hire a non-Latter-day Saint coach in Maka Sakamoto. Sakamoto was the last head coach of BYU’s men’s gymnastics program that was phased out of the athletic department in 1999.

To KSL Sports’ knowledge, Taylor is the first non-Latter-day Saint head coach BYU has hired since Sakamoto.

Diljeet Taylor has been instrumental in BYU’s Cross Country, Track & Field success.

Taylor has been an accomplished assistant since 2016 with BYU. In five seasons since joining the track and field and cross country staff, the Cougar women have earned 10 All-America honors in cross country and 54 All-America honors in the distance and middle distance track events.

“I continue to be grateful for the administration here at BYU who have shown me an incredible amount of value over the past five years,” Taylor said in a release. “The support I have received has empowered me to give my best to our program. I look forward to continuing to build the women in our program so they can compete at the highest level in the NCAA. Our success here is a direct result of having the right women at the right place.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3 pm) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU Makes Historic Hire Promoting Diljeet Taylor To Women’s Cross Country Coach