Irish fans react to Coach Brey’s departure

Published: Jan. 21, 2023 at 9:26 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Coach Mike Brey is stepping down as the head coach of Notre Dame Men’s Basketball, and after more than two decades at the helm, many fans think it’s time for a change.

“I love Brey,” Notre Dame Basketball Fan Ed Malloy said. “I love what he did for the school. I think he was clean, and recruiting was great; it’s time to go. We’ve been to every game, and it’s just like Groundhog Day, the movie. It’s the same thing every game, same scenario. I Hope Mike can move on and maybe accomplish somewhere else, you know, more wins somewhere else.”

The Maryland native has been leading the Irish for 23 seasons, becoming the winningest basketball coach in Notre Dame history while accumulating over 480 wins in his time with the Irish.

“You know, for the last 23 years, there probably has not been a better representative of Our Lady’s University than Coach Brey,” Director of Regional Development for the University of Notre Dame Mike Connaughton said. “He’s been a winner and class guy all the way through, he will certainly be missed, but it’s an exciting time. Change always is, and I have full confidence in Jack Swarbrick’s ability to bring in another top-notch coach.”

Brey’s teams have also danced a baker’s dozen in March, making 13 NCAA tournaments, including three Sweet 16 trips, two Elite Eight appearances, and becoming the 2015 ACC Champions.

“Still a quarter of a century; it’s incredible to see him be with the Notre Dame program,” Graduate Student at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business Carter Loesch said. “He actually brought Notre Dame basketball to prevalence, and I think he did everything he could for the program. It’s one of those things that it’s time to move on.”

Irish fans tell 16 News Now that they see the college sports dynamic changing and want Notre Dame to adapt to the times, but they still wish Coach Brey the best and are excited for what the future holds.

“You know, that’s the world of college athletics now, and there’s a burnout period, and I don’t think you’re going to see a 40-year coach anymore,” Connaughton added. “If you get a coach that lasts more than a decade, you’ve done a great job, and that speaks volumes to how long Coach Brey lasted.”’

Before leading the Irish men’s, Brey started his college coaching career at Duke under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski from 1987 – 1995. Following his tenure at Duke, he led the Fightin’ Blue Hens of Delaware as head coach from 1995 – 2000.

“He continued the tradition,” Loesch said. “It’s now a time where people can transfer very quickly, he wants to develop a team, and his style worked for what it is. I think there’s just newer, faster basketball coming along. So, being able to see them play this last season, it’s not a goodbye; it’s a celebration of everything he’s done.”

Connaughton noted that it is essential to stay competitive on the court, but athlete or not, all Notre Dame students are held to a high standard of academic excellence.

“There’s a lot of things that these guys have to worry about nowadays that you didn’t have to worry about in 1990,” Connaughton said. “We mentioned NIL and the transfer portal; I think we run our athletic programs with the highest level of integrity, and we don’t necessarily compete with other programs that feel the same way. So, we keep graduating our kids and have success on and off the court, and I think that speaks volumes about the University.”

Coach Brey’s plans after this season are still unclear to fans and experts alike, but he will now have more time to spend with his two children (Kyle and Callie), and one grandchild (Olivia Marie).