July 2, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Sean Kearney, a longtime and lead assistant to Irish head coach Mike Brey at both Notre Dame and the University of Delaware, today was named the 15th head coach at The College of the Holy Cross. Kearney, a 22-year veteran of the collegiate ranks as an assistant and associate head coach, spent nine seasons with the Irish program. This will mark his first stint as a head coach.
“I couldn’t be more proud and thrilled for Sean,” Brey said. “This is a really great fit for him and for Holy Cross. “He has paid his dues and earned this wonderful opportunity to work at a school that shares a very similar mission as we have here at Notre Dame. This also is a great day for Kim (his wife) and daughters Erin and Shannon.
“He has been with me every step of the way during my head-coaching career and I couldn’t be more thankful to him for all that he has done for me throughout the past 14 seasons. He has been like family and today’s news is what you would want for your son or daughter.
“No one is more deserving of this opportunity than Sean. He has been a true gentleman in our profession and one of the real good guys. There were a lot of people out there rooting for him to get this job and I couldn’t be more pleased that Holy Cross has named him as its next head coach.”
“I am honored and thrilled to become the head basketball coach at Holy Cross,” Kearney said. “I have been extremely fortunate to have worked with some great head coaches in my career and none more important than Mike Brey in these last 14 seasons. I am especially proud of both my work at Notre Dame and the relationships that I have built there.
“It is a special place and my family and I have invested quite a bit in that community. I look forward to taking over the reigns of the Crusader program from coach Ralph Willard and am well aware of his team’s successes over his tenure. He leaves the program in terrific shape and we look forward to competing for league championships for many years with the players and staff currently in place.”
Kearney became a member of the Notre Dame coaching staff in July 2000 when Brey was named the school’s head coach. Over the past 14 seasons at both Notre Dame and Delaware, the combination of Brey and Kearney combined for 287 victories and a better than 65.0 winning percentage, seven NCAA and five National Invitation tournament appearances and a BIG EAST West Division championship in 2001.
Kearney is the third Notre Dame assistant during Brey’s tenure to become a head coach. Current Irish assistant Anthony Solomon, who spent three seasons on the Irish sidelines from 2000-03, was the head coach at St. Bonaventure University from 2003-07 after serving a three-year stint with Notre Dame from 2000-03, and former assistant Gene Cross (2006-08) is now head coach at the University of Toledo.
“In Sean Kearney, we found an outstanding coach who truly reflects the core values we espouse at Holy Cross,” athletic director Richard M. Regan, Jr. said. “He is a first class individual and has worked closely with an outstanding coach at Delaware and Notre Dame.
“It was clear to me that he is very highly respected in the college basketball community. We have spent the last three weeks considering over 50 candidates who expressed interest in becoming our next head coach. There were many interesting candidates and it was a challenge to narrow it down to those few that we felt best fit our situation. We’re excited to have Sean join us and we look forward to a long association with him.”
Over the course of the last nine seasons, Notre Dame posted a 188-101 record for a 61.0 winning percentage and advanced to the postseason in each of those seasons, including five NCAA tournament trips and a berth in the Sweet 16 in 2003. The Irish six 20-win campaigns and finished with an 88-60 record in BIG EAST regular-season play that included five seasons with 10-plus wins.
In 2008-09, Notre Dame finished with a 21-15 record that included a runner-up finish at the Maui Invitational and a semifinal appearance in the NIT. In 2007-08, Notre Dame rolled to a final 25-8 record (third most wins in school history) and a program-best 14-4 mark in BIG EAST play. Over the course of the 2006-07 and ’07-’08 campaigns, Irish teams compiled a 49-16 (.754) combined overall record and a 25-9 (.735) regular-season BIG EAST mark. Kearney was been instrumental in the resurgence of the Irish basketball program. His primary focus was with the development of Notre Dame’s post players. In addition, he coordinates the program’s national recruiting efforts.
Kearney aided in the development of first-round NBA Draft picks Troy Murphy in 2001 and Ryan Humphrey in 2002. Also under his tutelage, 2006 graduate Torin Francis earned BIG EAST all-conference honors two of his four seasons (as an all-rookie team selection in 2003 and all-conference honorable mention choice in 2004) and finished his career as one of only seven players in school history with better than 1,000 career points and 900 rebounds.
Forward Luke Harangody was named BIG EAST Player of the Year in ’08 and is the first player in league history to lead the conference in scoring in back-to-back seasons. Promoted to associate head coach prior to the start of the 1998-99 Blue Hen season, he helped Delaware to four NCAA tournament appearances (1992, ’93, ’98 and ’99) overall during his eight-year tenure at the school. Kearney and Brey combined for a 99-52 (.656) record from 1995-2000 and registered at least 20 wins in each of the final three years they spent at Delaware, a first in that school’s history. While at Delaware, Kearney was instrumental in developing the Blue Hens’ post players. Three of the players he worked with — Greg Smith, Spencer Dunkley and Mike Pegues — combine to hold over 20 Blue Hen records.
Notre Dame was the sixth coaching stint for Kearney, and fifth in the collegiate ranks. No stranger to the BIG EAST, Kearney previously served as an assistant under Rick Pitino at Providence for one year (1986-87) and also coached at Northwestern (1988-91) under Bill Foster.
Kearney began his coaching career in 1981 as an assistant at his alma mater, Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield, Pa. From 1981-86, he spent five years working with his former high school coach, Bud Gardler. While coaching at Cardinal O’Hara, he was employed as a senior systems analyst for Cigna. It was during that time that Kearney joined the staff of the prestigious Five Star Basketball Camps. That association helped him move on to the college coaching ranks.
His collegiate coaching career began in dramatic fashion at Providence College. During his only season at the Providence, R.I. school, the Friars advanced to the Final Four of the ’87 NCAA tournament in New Orleans by winning the Southeast Regional championship, marking the school’s second Final Four appearance. After Pitino moved to the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association, Kearney became an assistant under longtime head coach Herb Magee at Division II power Philadelphia Textile (now Philadelphia University). After just one season, he moved to Northwestern.
Kearney, who graduated with honors from the University of Scranton in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, was a four-year member of the Royals’ basketball team. In his final two seasons, Scranton finished with consecutive 18-11 records. He was a member of teams that won three Middle Atlantic Conference titles and earned three NCAA Division III playoff appearances. As a senior, he averaged 4.2 assists per game.
Born Nov. 14, 1959, he is married to the former Kimberly Lancaster. The couple has two daughters, Erin, a senior in high school, and Shannon, a high school sophomore.