He hoped to do enough when he arrived as the third coach in as many seasons to be at Notre Dame for at least 10 years, but may wind up staying for as many as 25.
The self-described “loosest coach in America” isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Notre Dame made sure of that Tuesday morning when it announced that men’s basketball coach Mike Brey has signed a contract extension that will keep him on the sideline in South Bend through the 2024-25 season.
Brey, who turned 59 last month, will be 65 by the time he completes a quarter century at Notre Dame.
“That should be it,” Brey said in terms of his coaching career. “I’ve got good energy. You feel maybe it would be time to do something else, but who knows? Maybe I’ll be crazy and try to be like (Jim) Boeheim and (Mike) Krzyzewski and go until I’m 70.
“I’ve been honored, man, to coach here.”
It’s the first contract extension for Brey since 2012 when he signed a 10-year deal that runs through 2021-22.
Brey recently completed his 18th season. Should he finish the length of his contract, Brey will have coached at Notre Dame for a quarter century, longer than anyone in program history. George Keogan and Digger Phelps each coached at Notre Dame a program-best 20 seasons.
“You’re not interested in coaching at another college,” Brey said. “This has been it.”
Brey was hired by former athletic director Kevin White on July 14, 2000. His original contract was for seven seasons. Brey said in his introductory press conference that Friday afternoon in the middle of summer that he hoped to win enough to eventually retire at Notre Dame.
“With this (extension) I just signed, you may just pull it off,” he said. “You never think it. You get here and you’re just trying to survive day-to-day.”
Brey has never seriously considered taking another coaching job, either in college or the NBA.
This past season, Brey passed Phelps to become the winningest and losingest coach in program history. He also won his 400th game at Notre Dame and 500 overall as a college coach. Despite losing senior point guard Matt Farrell (five games) and senior power forward Bonzie Colson (15) to injury, Notre Dame finished 21-15 overall, 8-10 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Irish were under consideration to snag an NCAA tournament bid for a fourth-straight season until about three hours before Selection Sunday.
Notre Dame eventually was the 69th team in the 68-team field.
A three-time conference coach of the year (all in the Big East), Brey is 403-202 lifetime at Notre Dame. He also coached five seasons at Delaware. He’s 502-254 in 23 years as a head coach.
“Mike Brey has built one of the most consistently successful programs in the country,” athletic director Jack Swarbrick said in a university statement. “And the foundation of that success is a winning culture that develops the members of his teams as both basketball players and young men. He is a perfect fit for Notre Dame and we are excited to have him lead our program well into the future.”
This extension has been in the works for nearly a year. Brey first mentioned last summer that he expected to finalize a contract extension, and that it might be announced before the start of the season. That was delayed. Then it was planned for around Christmas. Then after the first of the year. Something else – namely a season in which the Irish lost their two best players for extended time to injury – kept getting in the way.
“We’ve been kind of working on that and put it on hold during the season,” Brey said.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
While putting a period on the 2017-18 season Monday with the year-end awards program, Brey already started looking forward to next season for myriad reasons. He will welcome the highest-ranked recruiting class he’s ever signed. The five-man class is considered among the nation’s Top 10. Four of the five are expected to challenge for playing time as true freshmen.
“I love the young players coming in,” Brey said.
Notre Dame also moves into its basketball-only practice facility – the old Rolfs Sports Recreation Center – this fall. Renovations commenced in late December. The transformation should be finished for the first day of official practice in late September/early October.
“The practice facility has me excited,” Brey said. “That will be cool.”