July 14, 2000
KEVIN WHITE: It’s really great to see everybody here. It’s an exciting time for the University of Notre Dame, real exciting. Again, welcome and thanks for being here on particularly very short notice.
I’m Kevin White, the athletics director. Of course, we’re all here for a huge announcement. I’d like to say a few things before we bring Coach Brey to the microphone to address you. Before that actually, we’ll hear a word or two from our president.
Let me talk a little bit about the process. There has been an awful lot of questions about it. Let me just try to maybe provide an anatomy of the process, so to speak.
This is something that really began around July the 5th, to be honest with you, in what I’ve characterized like a presearch. We had like a six-day presearch. It appeared to us around July the 5th that we might find ourselves looking for a head basketball coach. So we had about what I would call, again, the six-day presearch beginning on July the 5th, and moved into the active search there on Wednesday and of course yesterday, Thursday of this week. We went into a two-day active search mode.
You need to know that we contacted about 40 to 50 what I would call college basketball experts around the country. You really should know that. We identified a pool of about ten. We found ten very strong prospects for this position. With a lot of work and a lot of help from the staff and officers of the University, that group of experts of 40 to 50, we took our pool from ten down to about seven, probably earlier in the week, maybe the Monday or Tuesday part of the week. We took it down to about seven. As we moved from there, probably by Wednesday we got it down to three actually.
I went and interviewed all three of the prospects, the candidates at that point. At that point, we also invited, I did, two of the three to meet with what we have identified as our committee, which consisted of Father Malloy, Patrick McCartin, Nathan Hatch and Lou Nanni, executive assistant to the president.
You should know that finally at about 12:30 this morning, we offered the job to Coach Mike Brey from the University of Delaware. I just want to make this point perfectly clear. We offered this position to one person, the person to my left. With a two-day active search, I’m not sure we could have offered this position to the 19 people that have told the national media they’ve been offered this job. I’m not sure that that would have been feasible or possible.
But this job is being extended an invitation to come and serve this great institution. That offer has been extended to Mike Brey and his family, Tish and his daughter Callie, his son Kyle. You’ll meet these folks in just a minute.
With that heartfelt congratulations for the Breys, particularly to Tish and Callie and Kyle, as I think Father Malloy just said a moment ago, this has happened real fast, but you guys are going to love it here, this is an awesome place. Already we care a great deal about you.
When you think (inaudible) it’s pretty special. You’re talking about a guy that played at DeMatha, coached at DeMatha at the high school level, went on to Duke, was an assistant coach there, then head coach at the University of Delaware.
When I think about the Duke experience, I tell you, what it excites me. You’re talking about a time at Duke University where they went to six Final Fours in eight years and won two National Championships.
As I talked to Coach K and others, players on those teams, I’ve come to realize that Mike Brey played a pretty darn significant role in some of that wonderful success that happened down there.
In addition, Mike had great opportunities to work with the lead athletes, namely the Grant Hills, the Christian Laettners, Bobby Hurleys. Now he’s going to have an opportunity to work with some of the best we have. We have a bunch of them sitting right here in front of me.
Again, in summary, let me say we’re going to be introducing to you in just a moment the head coach from the University of Delaware, that comes with five years of head coaching experience, unprecedented success at Delaware, something that in my opinion fits a (inaudible) fit at the University of Notre Dame, understands our mission and is passionate about this institution.
It’s a long-term two-way binding agreement. Coach Brey is going to be with us for a long time. So, folks, with that, let me just say, again, it’s an honor to welcome the Brey family. Again, welcome to Notre Dame.
May I introduce the president of the University of Notre Dame, Father Malloy, who will officially welcome the Breys.
FATHER MALLOY: First of all, let me join Kevin White in thanking you for coming out to show the interest and the enthusiasm of Notre Dame fans in this program.
I want to thank Kevin and his staff, Lou Nani and my staff, and others who have participated in what was a very demanding and very quick turnaround time. We would do nothing to harm this program by being premature. We wanted someone of outstanding pedigree. We’ve already heard some of those elements, background, that Mike Brey brings with him.
It’s interesting that the person that was his coach in high school and with whom he worked, Morgan Wooten, a number of years ago set the record for the most high school victories in American history. When I was much younger and a lot sprier, he coached against my team. I’m happy to say we used to kill them. But soon after they became the dominant power, not only in the DC area, but throughout the country.
I know that we’ve heard from Coach Wooten the high regard with which he holds Mike Brey.
Subsequent to that, Mike had a chance to spend time in one of the elite programs of the country, working with Coach Krzyzewski at Duke University. We know the outstanding combination of academic success and athletic achievement that has happened there.
Coach K has told us that Mike was very instrumental not only in the recruiting process, but in dealing in an appropriate way, in an inspiring way, with the student athletes in that program.
He’s also not only of an outstanding pedigree, but also with distinction in his first head coaching responsibility at the University of Delaware. He brought that program to high levels of achievement very quickly.
So when it comes to basketball background and knowledge and enthusiasm, I don’t think you would find a coach in the country who is better prepared for this new responsibility.
But then there’s the question about a particular kind of University, a Catholic University, a residential school, a place full of tradition and loyalty, a place that tries to do everything the right way, to be an academic institution of the highest distinction and to be successful in all of our athletic programs.
In our conversation with Coach Brey, he indicated over and over again that he has a passion and a drive to succeed here in his primary charge, but also to do it the Notre Dame way.
He comes with his family, and I know that he will draw upon the support that his wife and children will provide. As I just told them, as Kevin indicated to you, we’re delighted you could be with us. I think you will find very quickly that there are a lot of things very special about Notre Dame. We strive to be a family, an extended community, we try to be there for each other, and we try to yell and support our teams, to be involved in our community, to develop a network of alumni relations that’s unprecedented in the history of American higher education.
I’m just delighted, having been through this process, that so quickly, and with utmost confidence, we can welcome to the Notre Dame community Coach Mike Brey and his family. Please join me in welcoming them. (Applause.)
COACH MIKE BREY: Thank you very much. I’ve only been to South Bend twice before today, road games when I was with Duke University. Left on the bus through the back exit there and drove off this campus many times. “I wonder if I could ever be good enough to do it at a place like this.” All I can say is, wow, we’re here. The Brey family is thrilled to be part of this great, great institution.
I really understand the mission of this University. My background at DeMatha High School, as Father Malloy talked about early, DeMatha Catholic High School, and Duke University, I just felt the last couple years, I’m trained to do the job here. This would be a place where I would love to come and do it for a long, long time.
I’ve been in Delaware for five seasons. We’ve had some success the last three, huge success. With that comes opportunities. Never the number of opportunities that you read about in the Internet because they had me involved with jobs that I didn’t know existed sometimes.
I’ve been in love with two coaching jobs in my five years at head coach. That’s Notre Dame twice, I’ll be very clear, Notre Dame twice, and I’m happy I’m here.
I had a chance to visit with the players early this afternoon. One thing I really want to emphasize is there’s a heck of a basketball team here. One of the things that’s very attractive is that you’re good right away. There’s no rebuilding. This is a good team.
I was excited all week reading articles off the Internet. I mentioned this to them in the locker room. I think I saw a couple along the lines of, It really doesn’t matter who we get as coach, we’re going to be good next year. I love that. They’ve started to take absolute ownership of themselves. They’re ready.
I’m excited to get to work and to get to know these young men. Even though this is a busy time, the heart of the recruiting period, I think we can sacrifice some recruiting days until the end of this recruiting period for me to come back and get to town and get to know these guys more. I’m very excited about October 15th, getting started with the first day of practice.
As Kevin and Father Malloy talked about with my background, you know, I spent five years at a Catholic high school working for Morgan Wooten. It was great. It taught me how to work hard. I taught history there. My first year there, I taught six classes of history. I had two study halls. I coached the JVs, I helped with the varsity. At the end of the year, Father Sullivan said, “Mike, next year we’re going to have you back full-time.”
I certainly learned what it was like to work hard and certainly learned what it was like to be part of Catholic education.
At this time, I know you’re going to be put on the spot, but I would like my family to stand up. My wife Tish, my daughter Callie, my son Kyle.
I (inaudible) University of Delaware, but I really got a shot tonight. I think I can get them now that I’m at Notre Dame. I’m excited about that.
We’re thrilled to be here. It’s been a very busy – I don’t even know how many hours it’s been anymore. We’ve been on the fast track. You really don’t need sleep when you’re working from passion and excitement and just a lot of juice. It’s been great.
I thought it’s important for all of us to get out here and get a feel of this place. We’re going to try to spend a little more time around here tomorrow and get more of a feel.
Again, I think it’s great that the fans are out here on a July afternoon. Looking up there, I can just picture you raising out of your seats with a Troy Murphy 3-point play in a couple months to get it going again. I’m looking forward to that.
As far as the future of the program, I mentioned it’s very strong. One of the thing that I think plays into my hands is the national recruiting that this University can do and that I did for eight years when I was at Duke University. No one ran that track faster than I did and our staff at Duke University.
Many of those contacts, that network, are the same ones that we will go back to to recruit strong and keep this program at a high level and keep the recruiting at a very high level.
One that I think is very important is the Washington DC to New York City corridor. Being a DC guy, Father Malloy and I, I remember (inaudible). We need to get back to that city and get some young men. We need to get some guys from that corridor again.
Just in closing, before I take your questions, again I want to emphasize how passionate I am and the Breys are about being part of the Notre Dame family. We certainly understand what it means to have that on our chest.
(Questions from the floor inaudible.)
COACH MIKE BREY: He coached me at Northwestern State University in Louisiana, 1978 through ’80. He was let go as the coach there. I decided to transfer back to George Washington University.
Tines (phonetic) had a great impact on me. He’s still a close friend. I think one of the things I learned from Tines, as I certainly did from Morgan Wooten and Mike Krzyzewski, is how to communicate with young people, how to be positive with them, and how to make coaching and teaching a very positive situation.
Q. Can you talk about what you’re thinking about doing with your staff, when you’re going to try to find time to talk to your recruits?
COACH MIKE BREY: As far as staff, Sean Kearney, who has been with me for a number of years at Delaware, all five years at Delaware, really has a great background for this spot. He started with Providence, with Bill Foster at Northwestern, Philadelphia guy (inaudible), very good friends with the women’s coach here. He’s a natural here. I’m about 98% sure that he will join me here in South Bend. We have a great chemistry. We’ve been pretty darn good together the last couple years.
Tyrone Perry, who played (inaudible) in Newport News, Virginia, I suspect will come into the third spot, what used to be called the restricted earning spot, but that third spot. We would like to hire another full-time position. But we’ll do that when the smoke clears a little bit in August.
As far as the young men that are signed, the young men that are committed, I need to get on the phone when we’re done here and touch base with those young men. We certainly want them to join this program. I think they just need to get to know me a little bit and we’ll work to get that done over the next couple weeks.
Q. You’ve mentioned that you wouldn’t really move to another job unless it would be a team that would be in the Top 3 of its conference or could get there. Can you just talk a little bit about that, where you see Notre Dame going in the next season or two?
COACH MIKE BREY: You know, again, with the opportunities that I’ve been presented at Delaware the last couple years, I think I kind of adhered to the philosophy that I’d like to make one more move or no more moves because I really had a great situation at the University of Delaware. Other situations that came up and presented themselves, I looked at them and I thought, I don’t know if I can be there for seven, eight, ten. I can’t wind it down there.
Last night I was kidding with Kevin. I said, “I think I can give you 15 great years. After that I’m going to have to reevaluate.”
This is a long-term situation. I think the surface has just only been scratched here with how we can do things, who we can recruit, how we can get it going here.
Certainly, again, I emphasize, it can get going this season with the group we have here coming back.
Q. If you could talk about the impact you had at Delaware?
COACH MIKE BREY: Well, it’s been a magical five-year ride there. Regionally, with the eight years at Duke, as far as what we had done in the state, actually making basketball something cool to do in the state of Delaware.
I was excited about this decision, but it was a tough decision. We really love Delaware. The reason we love Delaware is the same reason it will be very, very tough to ever leave here or think about leaving here because our family really throws ourself into the communities. We’re in with both feet. We did that at Delaware. I think that helped us build the program and get the word out.
It was tough when you’re thinking about pulling up roots. But one of the things that Father Malloy and Kevin really emphasized, and I really sense today in the short period I’ve been here, you know, we can lay down the same very, very deep roots here as we had. That was important to me.
I mentioned the mission of the University. One of the things that worried me about going back to this level, and I had some opportunities in the last couple years, could I still be as good a family man. That was really important to me. I know it sounds corny, but that was very, very important to me.
I thought at a place like this, I could still, you know, watch Kyle play tackle football. By the way, sometimes when I look at Kyle, I think they hired me because Coach Davie has a young tightend prospect here at age 13. To watch Callie do her things. That’s very, very important to me. I thought I could do that here.
There was a way, and that was part of the mission, the balance at this place.
COACH MIKE BREY: It’s interesting. When I think of Notre Dame, I think of Adrian Dantley. When I was ten years old at Coach Wooten’s basketball came, where he’s known to recruit a few players out of, Adrian Dantley was my first coach at ten years old, first coach when I went to basketball camp. My mother still kids me every now and then.
Certainly got to know Adrian, followed his career. Through his career, I really watched closely Notre Dame basketball in those glory days, those great runs they had there.
(Inaudible) this week, as you said, was pretty quick. It’s funny because this business, as you know, and you just saw over the last two weeks, it’s amazing when the dominoes start falling. We were at the beach in Delaware hanging out for a week before we got on the road recruiting. I picked up the paper Friday morning and saw where Coach Williams decided not to take the North Carolina job. I turned to Tish and said it right there on the porch, “Get ready for South Bend.”
I’ve seen the dominoes fall enough in this business. In this business, you’ve got to be prepared before the phone call comes.
Thankfully, the phone call came on Monday and we got to visit last night. Certainly it was a quick turnaround.
COACH MIKE BREY: They won’t have to make a big transition. This is a good basketball team. That’s one of the things I talked with them about when we met earlier this afternoon. It will be very similar to the style they play already this year and had some very good success with.
There will be a few nuances, a few changes, maybe a little bit more open, maybe more freedom to do some things. This is a veteran basketball team, as far as defensively, halfcourt, man-to-man, which I believe that’s how they’ve been trained. They’re not going to have to go through huge adjustments here.
I just like the fact that they’ve taken ownership of themselves and they’re talking about what they want to do next year, how they want to play, you know, who they’re going to meet when they get into the field of 64. I think that’s the most important thing right now.
Just from talking to the support people here and the (inaudible) coach, they’ve had to do this two years in a row now. It’s been tough, but it’s made them better. They circled the wagons, and it’s going to help them down the stretch.
As far as style, some very similar things that you saw how they played this year, they’re comfortable with that. We have some new guys to add to the mix, we have to evaluate them. We’ll just take advantage of the strengths of this these guys, and there’s a number of different strengths.
COACH MIKE BREY: I think we talked earlier, and I remember (inaudible) this group when they didn’t get the NCAA tournament bid. I believe the ESPN cameras were here and how disappointed they were.
On Selection Sunday, whatever that date is, I had it written down on my calendar, write it down on my new calendar, that’s a big day, right up there with Christmas now, right there.
You know, we’ve got to be high-fiving that day instead of hanging our heads and walking out. We want to be part of that tournament. We need to use the regular season to get better every day to do that. We need to be fresh.
One of the things that I talked to them about is it’s a long season and I think we need to pace a more veteran group and older guys through the season so they have fresh legs in March, when it really counts.
That’s what I’m talking about. You know, more importantly, that’s what they’ve been talking about all summer.
COACH MIKE BREY: We want to get into that thing and be part of it. Once we get in, you can have some fun with that. I talked to them about teams that are happy to be there. I had a team like that in 1998, Chicago, still trying to recover from the wounds Purdue put us on. They haven’t been part of that.
I told them, I said, We’ve got good players, we’ve got leadership, we’ve got skilled guys, it’s all here. I can help you with the next step you want to take.
We’re not going to come in here and start changing everything. There’s some really good things that are going on here, absolutely. I watched them closely last year on television.
But I can help them take the next step. I can really work with the veteran group really well. I just had a veteran group leave me that won a lot of games over the last two years. It’s different when you have a group that’s played together for a while.
COACH MIKE BREY: I think you kind of psychologically crossed this one off the list, to be honest with you. You just don’t think it’s going to come around like that.
I don’t know, I guess I should have learned my lesson. In this business of coaching and recruiting, it’s never a dull moment. Us coaches, we’re always trying to make this an exact science, with computer printouts, all the video editing machines we have.
No, I didn’t think I’d have another shot at this a year later.
COACH MIKE BREY: I think you can get to a crossroads. I was at that crossroads. A couple weeks ago, Dr. Dave Roselle, our president, Edward Johnson, we kind of did a contract long-term at Delaware. Their philosophy was, “Mike, we’re going to make you a lifer. Maybe you can become the athletic director someday.” That was attractive to me. The quality of life was good, having fun coaching in the state.
There were times the last two years that Tish and I had some heart-to-heart talks about being at a crossroads. We had achieved there. We won Championships. At times I wonder, What else can we do there? Will you still be challenged? I had to answer that question many times.
I looked for that next challenge closely really the last two springs. But I felt I had such a great situation in Delaware that I didn’t have to just pick up and go. I had that same situation when I was at Duke University because I had opportunities there.
I’m very fortunate that I’ve been able to be extremely selective in the places that I’ve gone. I’m very thankful for that. I’ve tried to be patient with things. Sometimes you do think, Maybe you stayed too long and you’re here forever. I think you think about all those things.
COACH MIKE BREY: As great as our memories are at Duke, and they’re special, the eight years we spent down there, that would not be a good move. I don’t know that that would be a good move for anybody. I don’t know about following Coach K. I don’t know if that would be smart professionally.
But I really want to find my niche, where it hasn’t been done altogether yet, and try to do some of those things. The answer is, I’m not interested in going back to Durham, North Carolina, no.
COACH MIKE BREY: Well, it’s exciting for me being in the Big East because I’m an eastern, mid-Atlantic guy. I already mentioned that corridor, Washington, DC, to New York, being important. Certainly being in that league helps us with that.
It’s a great league. Being where I’ve been the last five years, I’ve been able to watch it closely. We’ve played some of those teams. We just played Villanova this past year. I have a good feel for the league.
Us coaches, when we go home at night, we’re not going to watch a tape of our own team, you can ask my wife, we just watch games of other teams all the time. You know it’s bad when you start pushing the clicker, and you think it’s the rewinder, you start to push it. That’s the real TV. I think I have a tape in there. I’ve done that many times. I’m sure other coaches have done that when you’re in your mid-season mode.
It’s a good conference, classy conference, very competitive conference, challenging conference. I think it just makes a situation like our basketball program better. When I say a challenge, not just basketball-wise, but day-to-day competing, recruiting, public relations. It is a year-round, day-to-day competition. My staff and support staff and our players have to understand that.
COACH MIKE BREY: I think with who we are here, we want to play in big games out of the conference. Not every non-conference game can be a big game, but certainly there’s some big ones next year. That has to become the consistent philosophy here now. We want to think of ourselves as a big-time program, breaking into the Top 25, we have to play those games. Those games help us with the tournament committees, they help us with recruiting. We have to get to some places to help recruiting. That’s a big, big part of it. We’ve got to continue to schedule those type of games.
Not every game can be that, though.
COACH MIKE BREY: Players, I don’t think so. Again, I was talking to the guys. I can relate to now what they’ve gone through. I’ve never had to do that before. For about three hours this morning, you know, you’re on the phone talking to your guys. That’s difficult.
The older guys, you know, they understand it. The younger guys, you know, it’s tough on them. I had everything from guys crying to my fifth-year senior saying, “Coach, that’s the Big East, you’ve got to dress better.”
I think the program at Delaware is very healthy. There’s a good recruiting class coming in, good returning players, there’s a passion about basketball there. Whoever steps in there, it’s a very good coaching job.
COACH MIKE BREY: Absolutely. We have to go in there and recruit that area. I don’t want to make it sound like we’re going to be spending just our time in Washington, DC and New York. This is national.
The network that I developed for eight years at Duke, I really believe helps me greatly go national. Chicago is part of that. Chris Collins, Marty Clark were guys that Notre Dame wanted, we went in and recruited them. There’s more like that.
Then playing there is certainly important, too. That is something we’ll definitely explore.
COACH MIKE BREY: As far as the contract goes, my president, David Roselle, was at Kentucky before he came. He hired Rick Patino and CM Newton there. He really understands college basketball. He was extremely fair to the point of giving us a long-term commitment. But yet if there was something out there that really tugged at the heart, like this one did, he certainly wasn’t going to stand in our way if we wanted to pursue it.
I can’t say enough about his support and understanding of how it works and how I’ve been trained. I’ve had a conversation with both Mike Krzyzewski and Morgan Wooten, certainly my two key mentors. I spoke to Mike Saturday at the Nike camp. Mike felt strongly about my fit here. So much so that I needed a 20-second time-out at lunch. He was all over me.
He was right. It is a great fit. You’ve got to remember Notre Dame has a special spot in Mike’s heart, being a Chicago guy. He really, really understands the institutions in a lot of ways much better than me, at least at this point.
Morgan, again, with the players that have come out and have come up here, a number of football players up here now as we speak, also a very, very special sport in his heart.
I think they’re both very proud. I can’t thank them enough for their advice, not only the last couple years, but especially this week. It was good to be able to pick up the phone and make two calls while I was hiding from your phone calls.
Thank you very much again. I really appreciate it. Thank you. See you October 15th.