Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
PROVO — For now, the future of BYU sports is fraught with uncertainty.
Nobody knows this better than the school's athletic director, Tom Holmoe.
"Things are playing out right now. I'll check my e-mail and literally things will have changed in the last hour. It's amazing," Holmoe told the Deseret News Thursday after he delivered a presentation as part of his annual Education Week address on campus. "We have people who are watching it and monitoring it on a regular basis."
Which is why Holmoe said he can't say much about BYU's situation.
On Thursday, during Education Week, Holmoe spoke publicly for the first time since reports about BYU going independent surfaced.
While talking with the Deseret News, Holmoe reached into his pocket to answer his phone. "Let me get this," he said. "It's my boss."
Then Holmoe turned, answered the call, and briskly walked away — presumably returning to his office on lower campus.
There have been a whirlwind of rumors, reports and speculation the past 36 hours as it appeared BYU was close to leaving the Mountain West Conference, going independent in football, and playing its other sports in the Western Athletic Conference.
BYU released a statement Wednesday that did not confirm or deny the reports of going independent, only that BYU "has been reviewing, and will continue to explore, every option to advance its athletic program."
The situation became more complex Wednesday night, when the MWC announced that two WAC members, Fresno State and Nevada, were joining the MWC, leaving the WAC with only six football-playing institutions.
About 150 fans showed up for Holmoe's address in an auditorium at the Kimball Tower. During the address, he discussed for about 50 minutes the top 20 highlights of the BYU sports year. Afterward, for about 10 minutes, he fielded questions from Education Week attendees.
"Let's be real. There's a lot of things going on in the athletic department and around the country," Holmoe said before taking questions. "As you can tell, it's our policy or procedure that we're not going to play out our business in the media. We don't do that.
"Don't ask me to tell you what we're doing in relation to strategies and talks and things like that," he continued. "We have some incredible options available to us because of BYU broadcasting and the friends that we have across the country. We're going to look to make sure that we build on those things and take advantage of those things. We're trying to put ourselves in position to be the best we can, which is exposure across the country, letting our kids shine in the bright lights."
Asked how the move of Fresno State and Nevada from the WAC to the MWC affects BYU's strategy, Holmoe said, "Does what Fresno State does affect us? It does."
Is there a timetable for any further announcement?
"When we have something definitive to say. I can tell you something today, but it might change in an hour," Holmoe said. "I'd prefer not to say something that we'd like to happen that looks good today that an hour later didn't happen.
"If you read the newspapers today, a lot of things happened yesterday and last night. Anything I could have said yesterday would not have been accurate today. Anything I tell you today might not be accurate tomorrow. When is it going to be done? It'll be done when it's done. I'm not trying to be a jerk about it. If you're in business, the deal gets done when it gets done."
Earlier this summer, Holmoe said the school was frustrated by the lack of television exposure afforded by the MWC's television partners. "Our goal is exposure," he said Thursday.
As reported Wednesday, BYU could partner with ESPN if it decides to go independent.
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