Irish ink Brey to new 10-year contract
Notre Dame coach since 2000 signs deal to run through 2022
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- When Mike Brey was hired at Notre Dame back in 2000, he was asked how long he planned on sticking around.
The coach before Brey, Matt Doherty, left for North Carolina after just one season.
''I thought to myself and I answered it: 'This is the last stop if you handle it the right way,''' Brey recalled of his answer 12 years ago, moments after Notre Dame announced a new 10-year contract for Brey that will run through June 2022.
''It's looking more like we've handled it the right way and I'm honored and thrilled that this can be the last stop,'' the 53-year-old Brey said Tuesday.
Brey has led the Irish to six consecutive 20-win seasons. Notre Dame finished the 2011-2012 season with a 22-12 record and in third place in Big East regular-season standings.
Brey said contract extension talks started last summer, but were put on hold during the season. Brey compared the confidence that the university has given him with the contract to the confidence he tries to instill in his players.
''That gives me confidence as a coach. I think it makes you more fearless as a coach. Our profession is not the most secure. But when you know that you have that kind of support, I think you want to go for it even more,'' he said.
Since arriving at Notre Dame, Brey has turned around a program that hadn't reached the NCAA tournament in 10 years. In his 12 seasons with the Irish, Brey's teams have earned tournament bids eight times.
Athletic director Jack Swarbrick called Brey the epitome of coach-educator.
''It is a thrill for me to have been able to work through a process that ensures for the next decade, an amount of time significantly longer than the career expectancy of any AD, that Mike will be the head coach and continue to lead this program and lead the nation in building young men,'' Swarbrick said.
Brey's teams have become annual contenders in the Big East. With three Big East coach of the year awards, Brey is fifth overall in all-time league wins with a 133-89 record.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun are the only two current Big East coaches with longer tenure.
''Number one on my list is how proud I am and honored I am to be the Notre Dame guy. A close second is being a Big East guy,'' Brey said. ''We have an identity in that league. I love playing through those gyms. Now I've been in the league so long, I walk out and I know which pain-in-the-butt fan is going to be in my face in different arenas. I almost know what he's going to say.''
With a foundation of Big East success and NCAA bids, Swarbrick said the program's goal should be national championships in the future.
''We're in business to win NCAA championships. If I didn't think Mike Brey couldn't win an NCAA championship in basketball, we wouldn't be sitting here today,'' Swarbrick said. ''I believe he can. I believe this program can.''
Brey recognized the challenge and said he thinks about it every day. The challenges and expectations are different now than when he arrived 12 years ago.
''I think when we got here you were trying to survive the Big East. Now we're in a mode of thriving in the Big East. We've shifted gears,'' Brey said. ''I'm so excited about where we're at, our momentum, our position and how we're thought of. The one thing that's really powerful to me is the basketball world, the basketball community really respects our program and how we do business.''