Brian Kelly extends Notre Dame contract through 2021

AP
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Brian Kelly isn’t going anywhere.

After having his name thrown into the pot with every NFL vacancy, Notre Dame and its head football coach have agreed to a long-term contract extension, keeping Kelly atop the program through the 2021 season.

Athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced the news via press release Friday afternoon.

“In the classroom, in the community and on the playing field, Brian has built the foundation of a great Notre Dame football program–one that reflects this University’s values and its unique relationship to the game of football,” Swarbrick said in the release. “I could not be more excited about the future of our football program under Brian’s leadership, and I am especially thankful that our student-athletes will continue to have the benefit of that leadership in the years to come.”

Kelly recently completed his sixth season as head coach of the Irish, his 25th season atop a program since his days at Grand Valley State in the D-II ranks. His record in South Bend is 55-23, with his teams bowl eligible in every season, along with a 12-win campaign (and berth in BCS title game) and 10-win 2015. Only Lou Holtz and Ara Parseghian had two double-digit win seasons at Notre Dame. Kelly’s contract would make 12 seasons as head coach at Notre Dame, one more than Lou Holtz and one less than the 13 Knute Rockne spent running the program.

Kelly has routinely stated over the past few years that he has no interest in heading to the NFL. That belief has been challenged, mostly because he spoke with the Philadelphia Eagles in the days following his team’s loss in the BCS title game against Alabama. Those rumors will likely end with this extension—another stabilizing factor for a once wobbly program now on solid ground.

“I want to thank Father Jenkins and the leadership of Notre Dame for their confidence in me,” Kelly said in the same statement. “I coach football because I believe there are few better avenues for impacting the lives of young men, and I am certain that there is no better place to do that than the University of Notre Dame. During the next six years I look forward to continuing to lead a championship caliber program, but more importantly I look forward to continuing to help the student-athletes I coach to achieve greatness as football players, as students and as men who will make a difference in families, communities and organizations they will someday lead.”