Buried in a conference that boasts a pantheon of hallowed coaching names, it’s easy to forget the man who’s stalked the sidelines in South Bend, Indiana for the last 12 years.
On Tuesday, the college basketball world paid him notice.
Notre Dame has re-upped Mike Brey to a new 10-year deal that will keep him as the Fighting Irish head coach through the 2021-2022 season, the school announced on Tuesday.
The 10-year pact is a welcoming reminder that not everyone undervalues Brey’s impact at the school where he’s served as head coach since 2000. Brey has been a silent assassin at Notre Dame, cultivating a stable basketball program that has surpassed in consistency the football program which defines the university.
Brey sports a 259-130 record during his head coaching tenure in South Bend, leading the Irish to nine 20-win seasons and eight NCAA tournament appearances. The Fighting Irish have won at least 21 games in each of the past six seasons and reached the NCAA Tournament in five of the six.
Brey was a strong candidate for Big East Coach of the Year this past season, with a résumé bested only by Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, who won the award, and South Florida’s Stan Heath. After losing 2011 Big East Player of the Year Ben Hansbrough as well as starters Carleton Scott and Tyrone Nash to graduation, Brey suffered another blow last November, when he lost fifth-year senior Tim Abromaitis for the season thanks to a torn ACL.
As adversity mounted, so too did the results for Brey’s team. The Fighting Irish shook off a rough 8-5 record in non-conference play and surged to 13 wins in the formidable Big East. Brey’s team, projected to finish no better than 10th in the preseason, claimed the No. 2 overall seed in the Big East Tournament before falling to Louisville in the semifinals.
One season prior, Brey oversaw Notre Dame’s top-performing hoops team of the modern era. The 2010-2011 squad finished 27-7, marking Notre Dame’s winningest team in the modern era. Spearheaded by Hansbrough, Abromaitis and Brey’s tactical genius, the Fighting Irish finished the season ranked in the Top 10 for the first time since 1981.
A fruit of the Mike Krzyzewski coaching tree, Brey served as an assistant at Duke for eight seasons, beginning with the 1987-1988 campaign. While at Duke, Brey was part of six final four squads, four national title participants and the fabled ’91 and ’92 repeat title teams. Brey amassed 216 wins during his stint in Durham, ultimately parlaying that success into a head coaching position at Delaware for five seasons before settling in South Bend.