UND Staff

Joe Piane

Men's Outdoor track Head Coach


In 1889, track and field became the second varsity sport in school history. One hundred and 13 years later student-athletes continue to represent the Fighting Irish across the nation on the track, in the field and on the cross country course.

Out of those 113 years of competition, Joe Piane has been leading the program for the last 27. The longest tenured coach at Notre Dame, Piane will begin his 28th season at Notre Dame in the fall of 2002.

Since 1974, Piane?s cross country and track and field teams have posted the following numbers:
? Men?s cross country runners have earned All-American status 18 times.
? A Notre Dame cross country runner has appeared at the NCAA Championship meet for the last 12 years, while the team has made the trip 11 out of the last 14 years.
? The Notre Dame men?s cross country team has finished in the top 15 at the national meet in 12 of the last 15 seasons.
? The Irish men?s track and field team has earned All-American honors 46 times since 1974, while the women?s team has received such accolades 20 times since 1994. Combined, Piane has helped guide 66 All-Americans during his tenure at Notre Dame.

A distance-coaching specialist, Piane is recognized across the nation as one of the best in the business. He has been named NCAA Division I Cross Country Coach of the Year on two different occasions (2001 and 1987) while garnering five district/regional coach of the year honors.

As the Irish program continues to assert itself nationally (four cross country runners earned All-America honors in 2001, while a record 11 All-American performances were posted by the track and field teams), Piane has led from the front for almost 30 years.

In 2001, Piane helped distance specialist Ryan Shay compile one of the greatest track and field seasons in Notre Dame history. The Central Lake, Mich., native won the BIG EAST indoor 5,000 meters, the conference outdoor 5,000 and 10,000 meters and finished off the season in legendary style by becoming Notre Dame?s first individual NCAA champion since 1972 by taking first place in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore.

The Notre Dame men?s cross country team has enjoyed two of its most successful seasons over the last two years. In 2000, Piane helped the Irish recover from the loss of Shay due to injury and finish ninth at the NCAA championship meet.

With Shay back on the team in 2001, Notre Dame achieved its highest-ever national ranking (peaking at #4) and ended up sixth at the national meet to give the Irish their highest team finish since 1993.

And the honors continue when the track season rolls around. In 1986, Piane was chosen as the District IV track coach of the year. The MCC track coach-of-the-year award was given to Piane in the first six years that it was awarded, while the entire track and field coaching staff was named the BIG EAST women?s indoor staff of the year in 2002 after guiding the women?s team to its first-ever BIG EAST Championship.

Piane ushered the Irish into the BIG EAST in 1995-96 with third-place finishes in men?s cross country and both the men?s and women?s indoor and outdoor track and field. In 1997 and again in 1999, Notre Dame moved up to second in both the men?s and women?s indoor and outdoor track championships, with the Irish men?s coaching staff earning staff-of-the-year honors at the 1999 BIG EAST outdoor championships. The Irish got over the hump by winning their first BIG EAST men?s track title at the 2000 BIG EAST Outdoor Championships. Piane and his assistants earned the men?s staff-of-the-year award for the second straight season.

To date, Piane has coached his men?s track teams to 40 individual BIG EAST Championships and two relay wins in just seven years and the women have finished first as individuals 10 times and captured a relay team title in 2001 and ?02. In addition, Liz Grow (outdoor, 2002), Luke Watson (outdoor, 2002), Marshaun West (outdoor, 1999) and Jason Rexing (outdoor, 1996 and indoor, 1998) all received the conference?s outstanding track or field performer at various championship meets.

In 1985, Piane was named a member of the United States National Track staff. As such, he was one of 40 collegiate coaches given the opportunity to coach a United States squad in international competition. During the summer of 1987 he did just that, guiding a team of American all-stars in meets held in England and Ireland. Upon the conclusion of the 1991 Notre Dame track season, Piane once again faced international competition as he was appointed coach of the U.S. Pan-American juniors team for the games in Kingston, Jamaica.

Piane became Midwest regional chairman for United States Olympic Development in the area of track and field in 1984. Piane?s other Olympic preparation experience came in 1985 when he coached the North team in the National Sports Festival. He also coached the U.S. team against England in Birmingham, England.

Piane has produced a winning record in all but one season with the Irish cross country team and is also the creator of Notre Dame?s National Catholic Cross Country Invitational, an annual meet held on campus since 1980. The Irish running program continues to be a rapidly-growing entity thanks to Piane?s achievements. Continually searching for greater challenges, he also founded the Meyo Invitational and the Alex Wilson Invitational, both traditional indoor Notre Dame track events. The Alex Wilson Invitational has developed into one of the top indoor ?last chance? meets in the nation, hosting the nation?s best indoor performers just a week before the NCAA Championship.

A 1969 graduate of Loras College, Piane ran both track and cross country for four years at the Dubuque, Iowa, institution. He captained Loras? undefeated cross country squad as a senior, while excelling in middle distance events during the track season. After returning to the United States in July 1972, Piane assisted the track and cross country programs at Western Illinois. During that time he earned a master?s degree in physical education.

Born Aug. 6, 1946 in Westchester, Ill., Piane joined the Notre Dame staff in 1974 as an assistant track coach and physical education instructor with plans to stay on for just one year. He was named head track and cross country coach the following season.

Piane and his wife, Mimi, reside in South Bend, Ind., with their son, Nick.