July 12, 2006
Notre Dame, Ind. – Joe Piane — who is the longest tenured active head coach at the University of Notre Dame — has signed a multi-year contract extension that will keep him at the helm of the Irish men’s cross country team and men’s and women’s track & field squads, University director of athletics Kevin White announced today. Piane (pronounced p-ON-e) is set to enter his 32nd season at Notre Dame this fall, and the ’06-07 campaign will tie him with former men’s tennis/wrestling coach Tom Fallon (1955-87) for the third-longest coaching tenure in the 118-year history of Irish athletics. Only legendary baseball skipper Jake Kline (42 seasons from 1934-75) and fencing coach Mike DeCicco (34 seasons from 1962-95) spent more time with their Notre Dame programs than Piane.
“I’m thrilled to know that I’ll be here at Notre Dame for the next several years and hopefully well beyond that until my retirement,” Piane said. “My family and I truly enjoy living in South Bend and being a part of the community here. I also value and appreciate the opportunity I have had to work at a place like Notre Dame because of the quality of the people I’ve been fortunate enough to work with. I have coached many very special student-athletes during my time here and seeing their development has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my job – one that I’m eager to continue well into the foreseeable future.”
“Joe’s record here at Notre Dame during the past three decades speaks for itself,” White said. “The Irish cross country and track & field teams are annually among the nation’s elite and that’s a testament to the leadership and expertise Joe has brought to the table. He is universally respected, not only in the athletics fraternity here at Notre Dame, but also in the national and global coaching circles. We are pleased to know that Joe will remain with us to further build upon the foundation of success he has worked so hard to create.”
After one season as an assistant track & field coach with the Irish, Piane assumed the head track & field and men’s cross country coaching duties at Notre Dame in 1975. Since then, he has piloted the Irish men’s cross country squad to 14 top-15 finishes at the NCAA Championships (all in the past 19 seasons) and four BIG EAST Conference titles, while his Notre Dame track & field teams have combined to win eight BIG EAST crowns. He also has helped Irish student-athletes garner 122 All-America citations (99 track & field, 23 cross country), tutored 95 BIG EAST individual or relay champions in track & field and cross country, and guided seven student-athletes to the conference’s outstanding track or field performer award at its indoor or outdoor championship meets.
Piane has received numerous individual honors for his work at Notre Dame. He is a two-time National Cross Country Coach of the Year (1987, 2001), as well as a five-time district/regional cross country coach of the year selection and a nine-time conference cross country coach of the year pick (three times in the BIG EAST). Overall, he has earned or shared 23 league coach of the year awards (indoor track, outdoor track or cross country), including 11 BIG EAST Coaching Staff of the Year accolades in the past eight years.
The 2005-06 season may go down as one of the finest in Piane’s tenure at Notre Dame. His Irish men’s cross country team raced to its second consecutive BIG EAST title and a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships, matching the program’s best performance since 1990 (and one that hasn’t been topped since the 1957 NCAA title-winning crew). Piane then skillfully guided the Notre Dame women’s track & field team to its second BIG EAST Indoor Championship and was rewarded as part of the BIG EAST Indoor Coaching Staff of the Year. He closed out the year by steering the Irish men’s track & field team to its fourth BIG EAST outdoor crown (third in four years) and picking up another selection as the BIG EAST Outdoor Coaching Staff of the Year.
When all was said and done, all five of Piane’s teams (men’s cross country, men’s and women’s indoor track & field, men’s and women’s outdoor track & field) qualified for NCAA Championship competition, contributing 166.5 points to Notre Dame’s record-setting performance in the United States Sports Academy (USSA)/NACDA Directors’ Cup that saw the Irish finish sixth, the highest placement in school history. That point total doesn’t include another 51.75 points that were discounted because the Cup scoring rules only allow for the higher point totals from NCAA indoor or outdoor track & field competition to be used.