COUGAR TRACKS

What New BYU President Shane Reese Means For Cougar Sports

Mar 21, 2023, 2:08 PM | Updated: Mar 22, 2023, 9:43 am

Shane Reese, BYU, Big 12...

BYU President Shane Reese talks with media after being announced as university's new president at the Marriott Center in Provo on Tuesday, March 21, 2023. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – The upcoming Big 12 era for BYU athletics will also coincide with a new era for university leadership.

Brigham Young University announced on Tuesday during a devotional on campus that C. Shane Reese would become the 14th president at BYU. He replaces Kevin J. Worthen, who served as President for nine years.

Worthen’s tenure concludes on May 1, 2023. Then it’s Reese who steps into the office.

President-elect Reese steps in at BYU during a historic time for the university and the athletic department.

What does Reese’s appointment as BYU President mean for BYU athletics?

Shane Reese has a background in sports as a statistician

Reese has a background in sports, primarily as a statistician and sports fan. His work has assisted the Philadelphia Eagles and the U.S. Olympic men’s volleyball team, and he’s had students under him like former BYU basketball guard Nick Martineau who have helped NBA teams with analytics.

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“The second outstanding recommendation Shane has for his new position is that he turned down a front office job with the Philadelphia Eagles in order to stay at BYU,” said Jeffrey R. Holland of Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “It’s one thing to turn down the Los Alamos Laboratory or even the U.S. Government — which he’s done — but my goodness, turning down the Philadelphia Eagles? Talk about loyalty.”

BYU football fan

Along with being a big sports fan, Reese is a fan of BYU football. We even learned on Tuesday from Peggy Worthen that he tries to predict the outcomes of BYU football games with stats.

Having a president that respects sports always goes a long way at a university.

Head coaches often talk about “alignment” when settling into a job and staying for an extended period at a school.

That alignment stems from the school president, and in BYU’s case, an Advancement VP (Keith Vorkink), athletic directors, and the head coach. Everyone moving in the same direction towards goals is enormous for coaches and the success of athletic departments.

Some of the best stretches of BYU athletics have come during times with presidents who saw the importance of sports on campus. Jeffrey R. Holland was one, Rex E. Lee, and most recently, Kevin J. Worthen. Worthen was always present at every BYU football home and away game in the team locker room and around the squad.

Having a sports statistician as a President should help the cause of having the school president want the best for BYU’s athletic teams.

BYU has always been known to be a school that moves slowly. But, in college athletics today, nothing moves gradually. So, will Reese be willing to keep up with peers in the Big 12 and college sports? Assuming he is given such autonomy in his role.

BYU basketball coach Mark Pope has already experienced the hardships of BYU’s slower-than-usual pace regarding NIL in a space that blurs the lines between pay-for-play and allowing athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness.

Reese takes a seat on the Big 12 Board of Directors

It’s good that BYU has a statistician and a man that is good with numbers, as BYU athletics is going to pull in revenue the school has never before seen. For years, BYU did more with less. They still will have less than the Big Ten or the SEC. But very few athletic departments will have revenue streams like BYU and Big 12 members. When BYU is expected to get a full share of media rights revenue, it would be $31.5 million per year in media rights.

Then when you factor in NCAA Tournament and College Football Playoff revenue shares, Big 12 teams project to see $50 million per year in distributions from sports. How BYU under Reese utilizes that money with staffing and facility upgrades will be something to monitor.

Seeing Reese’s role in Big 12 meetings will also be interesting. He now takes a coveted play on the Big 12’s Board of Directors. Reese will have a seat when the Big 12 meets as a Board with Commissioner Brett Yormark at the spring meetings in West Virginia this June. Does he take on more of a listening role as Worthen did, or will he look to give BYU a strong voice within the league’s power structure?

Reese has the proper resume and background for BYU as they enter this historical time into the Big 12 Conference. An underrated piece to Reese’s resume that plays a role in athletics was his work on the BYU Committee on Race, Equity, and Belonging.

Reese was part of a nine-person committee that provided recommendations to President Worthen in an ongoing effort to “root out racism” at BYU. Creating a more inclusive environment at BYU for BIPOC could help athletic teams on the recruiting trail when pursuing prospects needed to compete for Big 12 Championships.

Reese will likely have big upcoming decisions regarding BYU athletics in the future with the athletic director position. Tom Holmoe has served as BYU’s AD since 2005. Now that Holmoe helped lead the way in getting BYU to the Big 12, questions of when Holmoe calls it a career are there. Reese likely will have the task of finding the next AD to lead the athletic department.

The move to the Big 12 Conference already created excitement and buzz for BYU athletics, and the addition of Shane Reese as school President only adds to the fact that a lot is changing at BYU.

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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 Mitch’s coverage of BYU moving to the Big 12 Conference on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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What New BYU President Shane Reese Means For Cougar Sports