What’s Causing Increased Money For BYU Basketball?

Jun 4, 2024, 11:17 AM

PROVO, Utah—BYU basketball is riding a wave of offseason momentum unlike any in the program’s history.

The hiring of Kevin Young, the NBA’s highest-paid assistant coach, as head coach has signaled a shift within a private school’s athletic department, which is known for doing more with less, or what many call “the BYU way.”

That appears to have changed.

Young reportedly landed a seven-year contract with BYU for $30 million as head coach, an eye-popping number for a program not known for paying market value for its head coaches.

Then, last week, BYU picked up a commitment from Real Madrid’s Egor Demin, who, according to international basketball website Encestando.ES, will earn $1.5 million in NIL as part of coming to BYU.

These reported dollar amounts show that BYU is chasing more than fifth place in the Big 12. They want to contend for championships and be a national player.

“It got obvious real quick [in the interview process] that there’s not going to be a lot of things that hold us back here,” said Kevin Young in April. “When you’re trying to lead your own program, that’s a massive thing. I haven’t heard ‘no’ a whole lot.”

It begs the question, what has caused the increase in resources for a self-sustaining BYU basketball program that doesn’t receive tithing or tax dollars from the state?

Utah Jazz and Utah NHL owner Ryan Smith, who has an estimated net worth of over $2 billion, spoke to Father & Sons basketball camp attendees over Memorial Day weekend. He expressed a desire to help the BYU basketball program in any way he can.

Even ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski pointed out that Young has “all the resources there to win big” and noted Smith by saying, “Who’s a big supporter of BYU.”

NIL efforts for BYU basketball have stepped up for Kevin Young

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe, during an exclusive interview with KSL Sports, pointed to BYU’s official collective, The Royal Blue, as a significant reason for the uptick in resources.

“NIL and through collectives, that’s how some of the movement occurs in college basketball and college football,” Holmoe said.

When The Royal Blue Collective officially launched in December 2022, it aimed to generate $1.5 million in donations for the basketball program and another $3 million for football. The reported deal for Demin absorbs that modest goal from less than two years ago.

It is a far different look from last summer when BYU lost transfer guard Ques Glover before playing a game due to what former BYU coach Mark Pope said was solely due to NIL.

This offseason, BYU has also welcomed back Dallin Hall and Richie Saunders. Both players dipped into the portal and had opportunities at power conference programs.

Kevin Young and his staff also maintained Honorable Mention All-Big 12 forward Fousseyni Traore.

“…Cake and eat it too”

“I think that one of the things that we’ve tried to do at BYU is to create a real strong culture where you try to keep the players that you have to retain them, and you do your very best to develop young players and keep them around,” said Holmoe.

“But the environment has changed a lot, the landscape has changed, and at BYU, we’ve tried to do the best we can to keep in line with the mission of our school and what we want to accomplish educationally first and then athletically. And sometimes people get that out of order around the country. But we think we can have our cake and eat it too and go for both of those.”

Along with Demin and the key returners, BYU also landed transfers Keba Keita from Utah and Rutgers forward Mawot Mag. They also signed four-star prospects Brody Kozlowski from Corner Canyon and guard Elijah Crawford.

When asked if Young was the most lucrative contract Holmoe has given to a head coach hire since he became AD in 2005, he neither confirmed nor denied.

“One of the great things about being a private school is you don’t have to say anything. So I won’t,” Holmoe said. “I think it’s in our best interest at BYU never to discuss the contracts of our coaches. And now our players.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and hosts the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X: @Mitch_Harper.

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What’s Causing Increased Money For BYU Basketball?