PROVO — The Pope is staying under contract with the school owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for a little longer.
BYU has extended the contract of head men's basketball coach Mark Pope through the 2026-27 season, the school announced Tuesday night.
"Mark is a proven leader and a builder of strong teams that will continue to represent BYU well," BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said in a prepared statement. "His unique abilities to recruit, develop and refine are the attributes any school would love for their coaches to possess, and we are so glad to have him here."
In an effort to aid BYU athletics as it navigates a $20 million projected budget shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope elected to defer increased compensation on the new contract until a future year.
In his first season in charge of the Cougars, Pope led BYU to a 24-8 record, including a 13-3 mark in West Coast Conference play. The Cougars rose as high as No. 14 in the Associated Press Top 25, including a No. 18 final ranking — its first appearance in the top 25 since the days of Jimmer Fredette in 2010-11. Among those wins were a memorable victory over then-No. 1 Gonzaga on senior night, the last time BYU was permitted to host fans in the Marriott Center due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Getting a chance to feel this fan base and their extraordinary response," Pope said. "I'm not overestimating when I say there is nothing like this fan base in the world.
"Anywhere you go, there are Cougar fans there — and they care. One of the things I love is that when I coach poorly, they let me know. And we all celebrate together."
Tom Holmoe announced that a contract extension has been finalized for Coach Pope that extends through the 2026-27 season.— BYU Basketball (@BYUbasketball) November 25, 2020
In an effort to help BYU Athletics with budget concerns due to COVID-19, Pope elected to defer increased compensation in the new contract into future years. pic.twitter.com/1cBsNFeRrc
A semifinalist for the Naismith coach of the year, Pope coached three all-WCC first-team selections in his first season, including Washington Wizards free agent Yoeli Childs and Utah Jazz Exhibit-10 signee Jake Toolson. By season's end, the Cougars led the national rankings at No. 1 in 3-point field-goal percentage, No. 2 in assist/turnover ration, No. 3 in field-goal percentage, No. 4 in 3-point fields goals per game, and No. 5 in assists per game.
After four years at nearby Utah Valley and a 77-56 overall record, Pope moved his wife Lee Anne and their daughters to a new job in Provo without having to sale their home in Utah County.
And under the current contract, they won't have to sell their home for a while.
"We've been talking about it for a long time, since the end of the season," Pope said during the premiere episode of BYU basketball with Mark Pope Tuesday night on BYUtv. "We went piece by piece to make everything feel right. On my end, it was great. Tom asked the question a few days ago if we are all in, and Lee Anne and I are all in."
BYU opens the 2020-21 season with three games in four days, beginning Wednesday night at home against Division II Westminster, followed by New Orleans and Utah Valley on the weekend.