Brown will not return in 2015
Greg Hadley | Thursday, December 4, 2014
Following a second straight losing season, Debbie Brown will not return as head coach of the Irish in 2015, the University announced in a press release Thursday night.
Brown, who finished her 24th season with Notre Dame this fall, won 519 matches with the Irish, including 15 regular-season conference titles and 22 NCAA tournament berths. However, since joining the ACC for the 2013 season, the squad has struggled, posting a combined record of 19-41, including a 10-28 mark in conference play.
“Debbie has probably understood what Notre Dame and its student-athlete experience is about as well as any coach on our staff,” University athletics director Jack Swarbrick said in the press release. “She has represented the University in exceptional fashion in her time here.
“However, our expectations regarding competitive performance are also high, and we regrettably have not been able to meet those in recent years. I’d like to thank her for all she has done for the program and, in particular, for all she has done for the student-athletes who have played for her.”
Brown declined to comment to The Observer on the specifics of her departure from Notre Dame.
“I would just say I’m disappointed,” she said.
While Notre Dame was part of the Big East conference, Brown enjoyed a long run of success, earning 15 straight NCAA bids. She was named conference coach of the year six times and did not register a losing season for her first 22 years. Under her leadership, Notre Dame had 23 players named to All-American squads, a first in program history.
“The highlights [of my career] are just the relationships and the time I spent together with these young women,” Brown said. “I’m just so thankful and so blessed to have had those opportunities. When the alums come back to campus, and we reminisce and talk about things … it’s not necessarily about a significant win or loss, it’s just about experiencing life together. That’s where I think the highlights are.”
In the past two seasons though, the Irish have finished in the bottom third of the ACC. In 2013, they endured a seven-game losing streak, including five conference games, and placed only one athlete, senior middle blocker Jeni Houser, on the third team all-ACC. This season, the squad dropped even further, winning just 30 sets over 29 matches. Freshman middle blocker Sam Fry was the only player to earn conference honors as part of the all-rookie team.
“My primary goal has been to provide a great experience for our student-athletes, and winning is certainly a part of having a great experience,” Brown said in the press release. “Unfortunately, the wins did not come as needed the past couple years.”
Despite her departure, Brown said she felt confident that the team would bounce back soon.
“I would have liked the opportunity to coach this team and to bring us back,” Brown said. “We have a great young nucleus, and you know, we had some obstacles to overcome. … I really believe in what could happen and what should happen, and I would have loved the opportunity to coach them, but I don’t have that.”
Looking ahead, Brown said she is unsure of her next move after spending more than two decades at Notre Dame.
“I think I’m just going to take some time,” Brown said. “After being here for 24 years and being a head coach for 30 years, it’s something I just need to take some time and think about, you know, what would be the next move and what to do. But I’m not going to rush into anything, and [I’m going] to take some time to reflect and see what’s available.”
Swarbrick announced in the press release that the University would conduct a nationwide search to find Brown’s replacement.