University of Notre Dame head track and field coach and men’s cross country coach Joe Piane has signed a multi-year contract to continue his role with both Fighting Irish teams.
“Joe has developed some of the best distance runners in the nation and the Irish have established themselves as one of the best teams in the BIG EAST Conference,” said Notre Dame athletics director Kevin White.
“His record of success is well documented and we are pleased that he will continue to lead our program long into the future.”
Piane will begin his 28th year at Notre Dame in the fall of 2002.
During Piane’s tenure, his cross country runners have received All-America recognition on 18 different occasions, including four-time All-American Mike McWilliams who starred for Piane from 1990-93 and two-time honorees Ryan Shay and Luke Watson. His track and field athletes have been awarded All-America status 45 times, a ratio of more than one All-American for every year he has coached at Notre Dame. Piane’s cross country squads also have finished in the top 10 at the NCAAs 10 times in the last 15 years. The Irish men won the BIG EAST Outdoor Championships in 2000 and the women’s team broke through to capture the 2002 indoor meet title.
In 2001, Piane helped distance specialist Ryan Shay compile one of the greatest track and field seasons in Notre Dame history. Shay won the BIG EAST indoor 5,000 meters, the outdoor 5,000 and 10,000 meters and finished off the season in fine style by becoming Notre Dame’s first individual NCAA champion since 1965 by taking first place in the 10,000 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore. Shay returned in 2002 to finish second in the 10,000 meters to earn All-America honors once again.
Piane has become the Notre Dame track and field coach to whom everyone else is compared. A quick check of his coaching honors reflects the excellence his teams have consistently enjoyed over the past two decades.
In 2001, he was named the NCAA District IV cross country coach of the year for the fifth time in 12 years after the Irish claimed the district meet on their way to the NCAA championships. In 1997, 1999 and 2001, Piane led the Irish to the BIG EAST men’s cross country title. He also was honored with the Midwestern Collegiate Conference’s cross country coach-of-the- year award six of the eight years the Irish were in the MCC. At the national level, he was named NCAA Division I national cross country coach of the year for 1987 after guiding the Irish to back-to-back top-10 finishes in the national championship meet. Piane repeated his national cross country coach of the year award in 2001, helping the Irish maintain a top-five ranking for the entire season and finish sixth at the national championship.
In 2001-02, Piane’s cross country and track and field teams combined to earn 327.5 of Notre Dame’s 806.5 total Sears Directors’ Cup competition points. Notre Dame ended up 13th in the competition.