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Senator Mitt Romney Celebrates BYU’s Big 12 Invite With Tom Holmoe

University of Utah President Taylor Randall, left, listens to Utah GOP Sen. Mitt Romney during a discussion at the inaugural Fintech Summit at the Garff Executive Education Building at the U. in Salt Lake City on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – Utah Senator and distinguished alum of BYU (class of 1971), Mitt Romney, paid a Wednesday visit to his alma mater.

Romney shared a picture from his visit with BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe on his Twitter account that he uses for his role as Senator.

“Met with @BYUCougars Athletics Director @TomHolmoe to discuss their Built For Life program and the outlook for collegiate sports. We also celebrated some exciting things happening at @BYU, including joining the @Big12Conference and some recent wins on the football field! #GoCougs”

Mitt Romney has always wanted BYU in the Big 12 Conference

Despite being a political figure, Romney has never shied away from showing his support and passion for BYU sports. Back in 2016, Romney was lobbying for BYU to get into the Big 12 Conference when the league was exploring expansion.

The Big 12 didn’t end up expanding in 2016. But they did expand this time around, with BYU joining the fold after Texas and Oklahoma made it clear they were leaving for the SEC. BYU will officially join the Big 12 beginning in the 2023-24 academic year.

Advocate for the student-athlete

Along with BYU sports, Romney has kept a pulse of the future of college athletics. In 2019, Romney publicly expressed support for student-athletes to be able to profit off of their name, image, and likeness, sending a message to the NCAA on behalf of Congress that read, “We’re coming for you.”

Fast forward to July 1 of this year; the NCAA suspended its amateurism rules regarding NIL.

BYU’s “Built 4 Life” program has drawn national headlines for its ability to create opportunities for everyone in the football program to benefit from the historic era of NIL. Last month, every player on the football team signed a deal with Built Bar that gave them cash or covered their tuition if they were walk-on athletes.

Ties to BYU athletics over the years

Romney has strong ties to Brigham Young University and the current football program. Two of Romney’s nephews, Baylor and Gunner, are upperclassmen with Kalani Sitake’s team. Gunner is a wide receiver that has aspirations of going to the NFL next year. Baylor stepped in last week to deliver the game-clinching touchdown pass in an upset win over nationally-ranked Arizona State.

BYU AD Tom Holmoe pointed out the deeper connections that run with the Romney’s and BYU sports.

“Not the first time the Romney Family has ‘assisted’ the Cougs in a big way. Mitt’s dad George’s first cousin was none other than BYU Athletic Director and multi-sport coach (1926-’37) Ott Romney! Always great to meet with you Senator.”

The No. 15 ranked BYU football team will have another chance to bring a smile to Senator Romney’s face and the BYU fan base this Saturday when they host the USF Bulls in Provo. The kick-off is set for 8:15 p.m. on ESPN2 and KSL NewsRadio.

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

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