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Friday, April 12, 2024
The Observer

Mike Brey, winningest head coach in Notre Dame history, to leave at end of season

Mike Brey, the winningest coach in Notre Dame men’s basketball history, plans to retire at the end of the season, the university announced Thursday afternoon. Brey is expected to tell the team after practice Thursday.

The news comes amidst a disappointing season for the Irish. A year after finishing second in the ACC and returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2017, the team has slumped to a 1-7 conference record this year.

“Mike and I have talked often in recent years about a future transition in the program’s leadership and during our most recent conversation we reached the mutual conclusion that the end of this season represented the right time,” said athletic director Jack Swarbrick in an announcement posted on the athletic department’s website less than an hour after the news broke.

“It has been a great run for me and our program over the past two decades, but it is time for a new voice to lead this group into the future,” Brey said in the announcement. “I want to thank our student-athletes, assistant coaches and support staff who have played such a key role in the culture we have created.” 

Brey was hired to lead the Irish prior to the 2000-01 season, after spending five seasons at Delaware. He took over a program that hadn’t made the tournament in over a decade and not since the legendary Digger Phelps retired in 1991. Brey quickly made his own mark, qualifying for the tournament in each of his first three years with Notre Dame. 

He led the program through the transition to the ACC in 2013-14. In what is often considered among the toughest basketball conferences in the country, Brey made an immediate splash. In just their second year in the conference, the Irish won the ACC Tournament and made the first of what would be back-to-back Elite Eight appearances.

Brey has accumulated 481 wins in his 22-plus seasons at Notre Dame. He has coached numerous NBA players including Pat Connaughton, Jerian Grant and most recently, Blake Wesley. While success has been harder to come by over the last five years, Brey has found success on the recruiting trail recently. The biggest example of that is freshman guard JJ Starling. The Baldwinsville, New York, native is the first five-star and highest-rated recruit ever to sign with Notre Dame.

Aside from his success on the court, Brey will also leave a legacy as the student’s coach. Prior to big games, he could often be found standing on tables in South Dining Hall or spectating intramural basketball games at North Dome, handing out tickets and encouraging students to attend. 

Notre Dame will have the rest of what appears to be a lost season to find a suitable successor for a coach who has become synonymous with the program he leads. They could opt to promote internally. Associate head coach Anthony Solomon is well-regarded and has been an integral part of the team’s success. Or the Irish could wait and see how the coaching pool shapes up in the offseason. 

Despite their struggles thus far, Notre Dame will try to turn their season, starting Saturday when Boston College comes to South Bend. Brey will address the media Friday morning.

Contact Liam Coolican at