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    UCLA adds former Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo to staff
    • March 31, 2023

    UCLA has hired former Navy football coach Ken Niumatalolo as the program’s director of leadership, the school announced Friday.

    Niumatalolo, Navy’s winningest head coach, was fired at his locker after the Midshipmen’s 20-17 double-overtime loss to rival Army in Philadelphia in December.

    Niumatalolo – who had a reputation for graduating his players, his honest approach and avoiding NCAA infractions – will serve as an adviser to the program’s staff and players, according to a UCLA press release.

    UCLA recently hired Niumatalolo’s son, former Utah tight end Ali’i Niumatalolo, as an offensive line graduate assistant. Former Navy assistant coach Bryce McDonald is UCLA’s chief of staff, and assistant coach Brian Norwood is one of Niumatalolo’s best friends.

    Niumatalolo had a 109-83 record in his 15 seasons leading Navy, where he won six of 10 bowl games, both school records. No head coach had won eight consecutive games in the Army-Navy series until Niumatalolo began his career by doing so (2008-15), and his 10 wins overall is also the most in the history of the rivalry. Niumatalolo’s teams earned the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, awarded annually to the military service academy team with the best regular-season record against the other two teams, a program-record six times. Niumatalolo also joined Wayne Hardin as the only Navy coaches to beat Notre Dame three times.

    The Midshipmen had struggled recently, though. They finished with four wins or less three seasons in a row and have gone 2-5 against both Army and Air Force since 2016.

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    Niumatalolo’s 2015 team won a program-record 11 games, something they did again in 2019, with both teams finishing in the top 20 of the final Associated Press Top 25 poll.

    Just the second Polynesian head coach in FBS history and the first Samoan head coach at any level, Niumatalolo was selected to the inaugural class of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

    ​ Orange County Register