Longtime Notre Dame volleyball coach Debbie Brown will not return in 2015

ND Insider Staff Report
ND Insider

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced in a statement that longtime volleyball coach Debbie Brown will not return after 24 seasons as the Irish coach.

“Debbie has probably understood what Notre Dame and its student-athlete experience is about as well as any coach on our staff. She has represented the University in exceptional fashion in her time here,” Swarbrick said in the statement.

“However, our expectations regarding competitive performance are also high, and we regrettably have not been able to meet those in recent years. I’d like to thank her for all she has done for the program and, in particular, for all she has done for the student-athletes who have played for her. We will immediately begin a national search to identify a new head coach for our volleyball program.”

Brown’s Notre Dame tenure included a 519-247 record (.677), as well as a 30-year career mark of 636-330 (.658). She led her teams to 26 consecutive winning seasons, from 1985 to 2012. Six times she was named Big East Coach of the Year (she was the league’s first five-time winner of that award), and she also merited that honor four times from the Midwestern Collegiate Conference.

“I thank God for the opportunities I’ve had to coach at Notre Dame over the past 24 years,” Brown said in the statement. “I’ve been blessed beyond measure through the relationships with my student-athletes and my coaching and support staffs. I will cherish the memories forever. My primary goal has been to provide a great experience for our student-athletes and winning is certainly a part of having a great experience. Unfortunately the wins did not come as needed the past couple years. Great things are in store for the program in the immediate future, and I will forever be its biggest fan and supporter.”

Before coming to Notre Dame, Brown’s six seasons at Arizona State (1983-88) included Pacific-10 Conference Coach of the Year honors in 1986. She compiled a 117-83 record en route to five NCAA Championship berths while in Tempe. Brown took a leave of absence from Arizona State in 1988 to serve as an assistant coach for the United States National Team before accepting a full-time national team position in 1989.

Brown grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of El Segundo and became one of the nation's top prep players. She competed as a 17-year-old for the United States at the 1974 World Championship in Mexico City and a year later played on the Adidas team that won the USVBA title. She captained USC to a 72-1 two-year record and national titles in 1976 and 1977, including a 38-0 run in 1977 that, until 1998, was the only unbeaten season in Division I women's volleyball history. Brown (then Debbie Landreth) twice was named a collegiate All-American and received the Mikasa Award as the nation's best all-around player in 1976 and 1977.

The 5-foot-8 outside hitter left USC prior to her junior year as she accepted an invitation to train full-time with the U.S. National Team. She co-captained the team to a fifth-place finish at the 1978 World Championships. A year later, she and her teammates qualified for the Olympics in Moscow and were considered serious medal contenders before the United States elected to boycott the games.

In May of 1995, USA Volleyball named Brown an "All-Time Great Volleyball Player," the highest honor given by the organization. She earned USVBA All-America honors eight times and won the USVBA's Kilgore Sportsmanship Award in 1983. Brown was a six-time USVBA first-team All-American and played for the 1975, 1985 and 1986 USVBA national championship teams.

In 2003, Brown was recognized for her outstanding career by the NCAA with the Silver Anniversary Award. She was selected as an Olympic Torchbearer for the 2002 Winter Olympic Torch Relay when it traveled through the Northern Indiana area. The Notre Dame Monogram Club bestowed upon her an honorary monogram in 1999.

Longtime Notre Dame volleyball coach Debbie Brown will not return in 2015, ND athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced in a statement Thursday night. (SBT File Photo/JIM RIDER)