Latter-day Saint and former Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo accepts new job at UCLA

The winningest coach in Naval Academy history also served as a stake president during his final years in Annapolis, Maryland

Former Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has a new job.

Less than a year after joining the UCLA football program in an advising role as its director of leadership, the Bruins have hired Niumatalolo as their tight ends coach, UCLA announced on Jan. 5.

Niumatalolo coached UCLA’s tight ends during preparation for the LA Bowl, which the Bruins won over Boise State, 35-22.

“Ken is a tremendous example for our program off the field through his character and experiences at the Naval Academy,” said UCLA head coach Chip Kelly in a statement. “We are thrilled with the opportunity to add his knowledge and leadership to our tight ends room and coaching staff.”

Before joining UCLA, the 58-year-old Latter-day Saint coached for 25 years with the Navy football program in Annapolis, Maryland, where he became the program’s winningest head coach over 15 years.

From 2007 to 2022, Niumatalolo compiled a win-loss record of 109-83 overall with 10 winning seasons, 10 wins against rival Army — the most for any coach in the series — and six Commander-in-Chief’s Trophies. He was named the American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year in 2015, 2016 and 2019. He was fired in December 2022.

During his final years at Navy, Niumatalolo also served as president of the Church’s Annapolis Maryland Stake. Serving as a priesthood leader “also keeps things in perspective” for a competitive college football coach.

“The quiet dignity and the sacredness of the Lord’s work has been very humbling for me,” he told the Church News in 2019.

Niumatalolo is the second Polynesian head coach in Football Bowl Subdivision history and first Samoan collegiate head coach on any level. He was selected to the inaugural class of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame in 2013, according to UCLA’s press release.

Niumatalolo, who played quarterback at Hawai’i, last coached tight ends at UNLV from 1999 to 2001, between two assistant stints at Navy.

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