BREAKING: Brian Earl Named Head Coach at Cornell

Brian Earl, who helped the Princeton program return to national prominence during nine seasons as an assistant and associate head coach, has been named the Robert E. Gallagher ’44 Head Coach of Cornell Men’s Basketball by Andy Noel, the Meakem*Smith Director of Athletics and Physical Education. Earl becomes the 22nd head coach in school history and replaces Bill Courtney, whose contract was not renewed after six seasons directing the Big Red program.

“Brian Earl was chosen from a large pool of very qualified candidates to lead the Cornell basketball program to sustained success on the court and in the classroom,” Noel said. “Brian’s experience as a coach and record-setting player in the Ivy League has provided him with the skills and knowledge necessary to achieve success at Cornell. He is a strong X’s and O’s tactician who also excels at recruiting and skill development. He also fully understands the challenges student-athletes face at an elite academic institution. I could not be more excited for our players and fans regarding the future of Cornell basketball.”

Earl has coached for the past nine seasons at his alma mater, where he was elevated to the associate head coach position in 2015. His efforts were instrumental in turning around a Princeton program that won just two Ivy League games the year before he joined the staff. Princeton increased its win total in each of his first four seasons on the sidelines while improving from six wins in 2007-08 to 25 victories in 2010-11. The 2010-11 team won the program’s first Ivy League title in seven seasons, ending the longest stretch without an Ivy title in program history. Since the 2009-10 campaign, when Princeton finished second to a Cornell team that advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16, the Tigers have posted a 143-69 overall record and a 72-26 record in Ancient Eight games, never finishing lower than third place and winning 20 or more games five times.

Assisting a pair of former teammates in Sydney Johnson (2007-11) and Mitch Henderson (2011-16), Earl had responsibilities in nearly every aspect of the Tigers’ program including skill development and strategy, opponent scouting, and recruiting. His Ivy League peers voted him as the league’s top assistant coach in a November 2010 poll, earning the recognition prior to a 2011 season in which Princeton won the Ivy League title and returned to the NCAA Tournament.

Earl, 39, coordinated Princeton’s defensive strategy the past four seasons, helping the Tigers lead the Ancient Eight in scoring defense in 2012-13 (58.4 ppg.). Princeton also led the nation in scoring defense in 2009-10. Thanks to those efforts, the Tigers were invited to the postseason five times in Earl’s nine seasons, earning an NCAA bid in 2011, receiving an invitation to the NIT in 2016 and competing in the College Basketball Invitational in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

Sixteen players have earned All-Ivy League honors during Earl’s tenure, with Ian Hummer (2013) becoming the first Princeton player since Earl himself in 1999 to be voted Ivy League Player of the Year. Earl helped recruit two of the top three scorers in Princeton history in Hummer (1,625 points) and Douglas Davis (1,550 points). Davis hit one of the most recognized shots in program history, as his last-second jumper earned the Tigers an Ivy League playoff win over Harvard in 2011, sending the Tigers to their first NCAA appearance since 2004. Facing eventual Final Four participant Kentucky in the first round, Princeton lost a 59-57 heartbreaker that was decided by a Kentucky basket at the final buzzer.

Since joining the Princeton coaching staff, Earl and the Tigers have won four postseason games, advancing to the quarterfinals of the 2012 and 2014 CBI and the semifinals of the 2010 CBI. Its losses in the 2011 NCAA tournament and 2016 NIT games were by a total of six points with one of the losses coming in overtime.

Earl’s winning pedigree comes from a strong basketball family. His father, Denny, was a starting forward for Rutgers where he played under head coach Bill Foster and alongside the late Jim Valvano. His brother Dan played at Penn State and is the head coach at VMI. Brian and Dan Earl become the fifth active set of brothers directing Division I programs, joining Scott (Baylor) and Bryce (Vanderbilt) Drew; Bobby (Arizona State) and Danny (Rhode Island) Hurley; Joe (Yale) and James (Boston University) Jones; and Sean (Arizona) and Archie (Dayton) Miller. Earl knows what is required to win in the Ivy League, having played for Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Pete Carill and the Ivy League’s all-time winningest coach by percentage, Bill Carmody. As a student-athlete, the 1999 Ivy League Player of the Year guided Princeton to 95 wins in his four seasons, a mark that remains an Ivy League record. Those teams went 51-5 in Ivy League play with unbeaten conference seasons in 1997 and 1998.

Earl continued his playing career after graduating from Princeton with a degree in Economics in 1999, suiting up in the United States Basketball League, the Eastern Basketball Alliance and heading overseas for opportunities in Germany and England from 1999-2002.

After hanging up the jersey, Earl spent four years working for Sallie Mae as an account executive before former teammate Sydney Johnson asked him to join Johnson’s first staff at their alma mater.

Earl is widely considered one of the top players and fiercest competitors in Ivy League basketball history. He was part of four teams that earned postseason bids – three to the NCAA Tournament and one to the NIT. The Tigers won at least one game in three of those four years, including the famous upset of UCLA in the 1996 tournament and a first-round win over UNLV in the 1998 tournament as the East Region’s No. 5 seed. The 1997-98 team compiled a record of 27-2 and finished the season ranked No. 8 nationally. In 1999, Princeton won twice in the NIT, including the final game at N.C. State’s Reynolds Coliseum, to reach the quarterfinals.

Earl graduated with an Ivy League-record 281 3-pointers, a mark that stood until Cornell’s Ryan Wittman ’10 surpassed him in 2010, and closed his career ranked fifth all-time at Princeton with 1,428 points. He also finished sixth on the school list with 263 assists and seventh with 140 steals. He averaged 12.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals while shooting 48 percent from the floor and 42 percent from 3-point range over his four-year career.

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