“He is so normal, he is abnormal,” ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg often says about Glenn and Stacey Murphy Head Men’s Basketball Coach Mike Brey. Perennially voted as one of the most likeable and easy to work with coaches in college basketball, Brey’s accomplishments - both on and off the court - are anything but normal.
Entering his 19th season on the Notre Dame sidelines, Brey is the all-time winningest men’s basketball coach in school history while becoming the only Irish head coach to reach 400 victories under the Golden Dome.
Boasting 403 wins at Notre Dame and 502 in his career, Brey has led the Irish through the program’s most sustained period of excellence since his hiring in July of 2000. Under his leadership, Notre Dame has competed in the postseason 17 of 18 seasons with 12 NCAA tournament berths, three Sweet 16 trips, two Elite Eight appearances and the 2015 ACC Championship.
Brey was named head coach at Notre Dame on July 14, 2000. In his first season with the Irish, he led the team to the 2001 BIG EAST West Division championship and quickly established his program as one of the best in the BIG EAST.
Notre Dame finished in the top five of the final BIG EAST conference standings eight times in 13 seasons, advancing to the conference tournament semifinals six times. Brey finished his time in the BIG EAST Conference fourth on the all-time wins list (he is currently tied for fifth).
Notre Dame moved to the Atlantic Coast Conference for the 2013-14 season and after a single season of adjustment, Brey quickly established that the Irish were ready to compete in the best basketball conference in the nation.
The 2014-15 team compiled a program-best 32-6 overall record, eventually advancing to the NCAA Elite Eight. It was on ‘Tobacco Road,’ however, that the Irish announced their presence to the new league by defeating Miami (FL), Duke and North Carolina in the Greensboro Coliseum to claim the 2015 ACC Championship.
Since that first 2015 ACC crown, Notre Dame has appeared the conference tournament final (2017) and semifinal (2016) to further reinforce its position as one of the top program’s in the ACC.
In 2011, Brey was the recipient of both the Associated Press and the Henry Iba/USBWA National Coach of the Year award after leading the Irish to a 27-7 record, perfect 17-0 record at home and finishing second in the BIG EAST. Brey also was named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year in 2007 and 2008.
In 2017-18, Brey became the 11th active Division I coach to earn 400 or more victories at his current institution. Entering the 2018-19 season Brey is tied for 23rd on the active career wins list at the Division I level with 502.
Before arriving at Notre Dame, Brey was the head basketball coach at the University of Delaware, where he compiled a 99-52 mark from 1995-2000 and won America East Co-Coach of the Year honors in 1998.
Leading into his time at Delaware, he was an assistant coach at Duke University. During his eight years at Duke, the Blue Devils advanced to the Final Four six times and won back-to-back national championships in 1991 and 1992.
Prior to entering the collegiate ranks, Brey played for and coached with legendary high school coach Morgan Wootten at DeMatha High School. He played two years at DeMatha, helping the Stags to a 55-9 record. After his graduation from George Washington, Brey spent five seasons as an assistant coach at his high school alma mater, helping DeMatha compile a 139-22 record, four league titles and a number-one ranking by USA Today in 1984.
Brey serves on the Coaches vs. Cancer National Council and has helped raise over three million dollars for the organization. He also has partnered with the American Heart Association to create the Men of Heart initiative, raising funds and awareness for men’s heart health. Brey is on the National Advisory Board of the Positive Coaching Alliance. He has also been inducted into the University of Delaware and the George Washington University Athletics Halls of Fame.
AN ATHLETIC FAMILY
Brey was a standout guard in his collegiate playing days, competing for three seasons at Northwestern Louisiana State (now Northwestern State) from 1977-80. He led the team in assists and steals all three years and still ranks among the top 10 in career assists at Northwestern State. He played his final collegiate season at George Washington in 1980-81 after sitting out the 1979-80 season as a transfer. He averaged 5.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game for the Colonials, serving as team captain and eventually earning the team’s Most Valuable Player Award.
Brey comes from an athletic family of educators. His late father, Paul, was a high school athletics director in Maryland while his mother, the late Betty Mullen, was the women’s swimming coach at George Washington.
Betty was perhaps the family’s most accomplished athlete, as she attended Purdue University and swam for the AAU team in West Lafayette, Indiana. For a time, she held a world record in the butterfly events and competed for the United States at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. Betty’s brother, Jack Mullen, played guard at Duke University and was a member of the school’s first ACC championship team in 1950.
Brey’s mother passed away on March 21, 2015, hours before Notre Dame defeated Butler 67-64 in overtime of the NCAA Tournament in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He coached the game that night as a tribute to his mother and the inspiration she provided to him throughout his career, with the Irish team only learning of his mother’s passing after the conclusion of the game. Brey’s father, Paul, passed away on Dec. 20, 2015.
Brey’s younger sister, Brenda, swam competitively at LSU and is a physical education teacher in the Rockville, Md., area. His younger brother, Shane, was a high school standout at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Md.
Born March 22, 1959, Brey is a 1982 graduate of George Washington with a degree in physical education. He has two children - Kyle and Callie - and a granddaughter, Olivia Marie. Kyle was a tight end and fullback for the University of Buffalo from 2006-09, then moved into the coaching ranks as a quality control coach at Kansas, Youngstown State and Ohio State. He is currently the head football coach at Ardery Kell High School in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Brey inherited a talented roster, including All-American Troy Murphy and current Director of Basketball Operations Harold Swanagan. Coming off a 22-15 mark from a season before and just missing out on a berth to the NCAA Championship, Brey helped Notre Dame take the next step and return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 1988-89 season, finishing 20-10 overall, 11-5 in the Big East Conference and winning the Big East West Division Championship. The Irish defeated Xavier 83-71 in their first appearance in the NCAA tournament in 12 years, then fell to Mississippi in the second round.
If 2000-01 marked the return of Notre Dame basketball to the national scene, the 2001-02 season verified that the program was there to stay. A third straight 20-win season (22-10), a 10-6 mark in the Big East (good for second in the division) earned the team a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Irish defeated Charlotte in the first round, then battled No. 1 seed Duke into the game’s final moments before falling to the Blue Devils 84-77. The season featured six sold out games in Purcell Pavilion (the most in six seasons) and Notre Dame’s first appearance in the Big East tournament semifinals. Current Irish assistant coach Ryan Humphrey served as one of Brey’s three team captains during the season and earned first team All-Big East honors.
It was another giant step forward for the program in 2002-03, as Notre Dame advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 for the first time since 1987, defeating Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Illinois in the first two rounds of the tournament in Indianapolis, Indiana, before falling to Arizona in Anaheim, California. The 24-10 campaign featured a program-first three consecutive wins over top-10 ranked teams, as the Irish defeated No. 10 Marquette, No. 8 Maryland and No. 2 Texas in consecutive outings.
Notre Dame returned to the NCAA Tournament with a 24-8 overall record and 11-5 mark in the Big East, as Brey earned his first Big East Coach of the Year award. The Irish began the season with a 15-2 record, the program’s best start since 1978-79, and finished the year 18-0 at Purcell Pavilion - the first undefeated season at home since 1968-69.
A 25-8 record, along with a 14-4 final total in Big East play would earn Brey his second straight conference coach of the year award and the Irish returned to the NCAA Tournament to defeat George Mason before falling to Washington State in the second round. During the season, the Irish pushed their home-court winning streak to 37 games.
The run of postseason appearances continued for the Irish, with a trip to the NIT semifinals capping a 21-15 overall record. The team was led by Ryan Ayers, a current assistant coach with the Irish, and Luke Harangody, who became the first player to lead the Big East in scoring and rebounding in back-to-back seasons. The season was highlighted by the team’s 39th consecutive home court victory over Furman on Nov. 30, 2008, eclipsing the 60-year old school record that was set at the Notre Dame Fieldhouse from 1943-48. The team eventually pushed the home court win streak to 45 games, the longest in the nation at the time, before it was ended against Connecticut on January 24, 2009.
Notre Dame returned to the NCAA tournament for the sixth time in 10 years, finishing the season with a 23-12 record and a 10-6 record in the Big East. The Irish won six of their last eight games, including three victories over ranked opponents and advanced to the Big East tournament semifinals for the third time. Senior point guard Tory Jackson became the second player to lead the Big East in assists for three consecutive seasons, joining Syracuse’s Sherman Douglas.
A fifth consecutive 20-win season culminated with a 27-7 record, 14-4 in Big East play, that earned Brey the Associated Press Coach of the Year Award. Reaching as high as fourth in the national polls during the year, the Irish would finish ranked 14th, the program’s highest mark since the 1978-79 campaign. Notre Dame also received a No. 2 seed to the NCAA Tournament, the highest seed earned in the Brey era at Notre Dame. For the third time in five seasons, the Irish finished undefeated at home with a 17-0 record.
Poised to take another step forward, a key injury to All-America candidate Tim Abromaitis in the preseason forced Brey to reset the roster. The reset worked, as the team finished 22-12 overall and returned to the NCAA tournament for the eighth time in 12 years under Brey’s leadership. The Irish advanced to the Big East semifinals for the third consecutive season and won a program-best nine consecutive conference games. Another highlight of the season was Notre Dame’s 67-58 victory over No. 1 Syracuse at Purcell Pavilion on Jan. 21, 2012, the 10th win over a top-ranked team for the Irish and the sixth straight at Purcell (an NCAA record).
The final season of Big East competition for the Irish saw the team finish 25-10 overall and advance to their fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance. The Irish finished 5-4 against nine ranked opponents during the year and advanced to the semifinals of the Big East Tournament for the fourth time. Brey finished his time in the Big East as the league’s fourth all-time winningest coach with 146 wins, behind Jim Boeheim (416), Jim Calhoun (309) and John Thompson (231).
After missing out on the postseason for the first time in the Brey era, the 2014-15 team bounced back in memorable fashion, compiling perhaps the finest season in Notre Dame basketball history. Led by seniors Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton, the Irish finished 32-6, won the ACC Championship tournament in just the second year in the conference and advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight to battle number-one seed Kentucky in the most-watched collegiate basketball game on cable television. The Irish ended up as just the third team to win the ACC tournament in the state of North Carolina by posting wins over Duke and North Carolina along the way.
Working off the momentum of the 2014-15 season and the NCAA Elite Eight run, the Irish owned March again to become the only school in the country with back-to-back visits to the Elite Eight in the past two seasons. Rallying to defeat Michigan, Stephen F. Austin and Wisconsin, the Irish would fall to North Carolina in the East Regional Final. The season also featured the program’s first victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium over Duke and a victory over number-one ranked North Carolina in Purcell Pavilion.
The Irish posted a remarkable 9-0 start to the 2016-17 season, the best nine-game start to a season of the Mike Brey era at Notre Dame. The run included a perfect 4-0 record through the Legends Classic to mark the third in-season tournament title of the Brey era. The team then posted a 5-0 start in ACC play to set the program standard for a conference record through five games. Memorable home court victories over No. 9/9 Louisville and No. 14/15 Florida State set the stage for a run to the ACC Championship game.
FEATURED INTERVIEW - Basketball's Turning Point: A One-On-One Interview with Notre Dame Men's Basketball Coach Mike Brey
At this turbulent time in college basketball, one of the most influential and candid coaches in the country will share his thoughts on the direction of the game and the role coaches must play.