WORCESTER, Mass. - The College of the Holy Cross has named Sean Kearney as its new head men's basketball coach, as announced by athletic director Richard M. Regan, Jr. Kearney becomes the 15th head coach in the history of the program, replacing Ralph Willard who resigned last month. This is the first collegiate head coaching position of Kearney's career.
"I am honored and thrilled to become the head basketball coach at Holy Cross," said Kearney. "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 comes to Holy Cross from the University of Notre Dame, where he has served as associate head coach for the last nine years under Mike Brey. He coordinated the program's national recruiting efforts, and played a key role in the development of low-post players. Over the course of Kearney's nine seasons on the staff, Notre Dame posted a 188-101 record for a .651 winning percentage and advanced to the postseason in each of those campaigns, including five NCAA tournament trips and a berth in the Sweet 16 in 2003. The Irish recorded five 20-win seasons and finished with an 88-60 record in Big East regular-season play during Kearney's tenure, including five years with 10-plus wins in the conference.
"In Sean Kearney, we found an outstanding coach who truly reflects the core values we espouse at Holy Cross," said Regan. "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 three seasons, Kearney helped lead the Irish teams to a combined overall record of 70-31 (.693) and a 33-19 (.635) mark in Big East regular season play. During the 2007-2008 season, Notre Dame finished with a final record of 25-8 (good for the third-most wins in school history) and a program-best 14-4 mark in Big East play. Kearney also helped the Irish post a 24-8 mark during the 2006-2007 campaign and a 24-10 mark in 2003-2003.
While at Notre Dame, Kearney was instrumental in the development of first round NBA draft picks Troy Murphy (2001) and Ryan Humphrey (2002). Also under his tutelage, Torin Francis earned All-Big East honors twice and finished his career as one of only seven players in Notre Dame history with more than 1,000 career points and 900 career rebounds. Kearney also helped develop Luke Harangody, who was named the Big East Player of the Year in 2008, after becoming just the second player in conference history to lead the league in both scoring and rebounding.
"I couldn't be more proud and thrilled for Sean," said Brey. "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. Sean 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."
Prior to his time at Notre Dame, Kearney was on the staff at the University of Delaware for nine seasons, serving under Brey and Steve Steinwedel. After serving as an assistant coach during his first seven years with the Blue Hens, he was promoted to associate head coach prior to the start of the 1998-1999 season. Kearney helped Delaware to four NCAA tournament appearances (1992, 1993, 1998 and 1999) during his tenure at the school. The Blue Hens combined for a 99-52 (.656) record from 1995-2000 and registered at least 20 wins in each of his final three years 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 - combined to hold over 20 Blue Hen records.
Kearney previously served as an assistant coach at Northwestern under Bill Foster (1988-1991), Division II Philadelphia University under Herb Magee (1987-1988) and Providence under Rick Pitino (1986-1987). During his only season at Providence, the Friars advanced to the NCAA Final Four.
In 1981, Kearney began coaching as an assistant at his alma mater, Cardinal O'Hara High School in Springfield, Pa. From 1981-1986, 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.
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, who will be a senior in high school, and Shannon, a high school sophomore.