Multi-sport Stadium Named for Notre Dame Football Coach Brian Kelly ’83, HD ’12 

Nov. 30, 2020
Headshot of Assumption University graduate and University of Notre Dame’s Dick Corbett Head Football Coach Brian Kelly

Coach Kelly Issues a $1 Million Challenge Grant to Support Greyhounds Athletics

Assumption University today announced that its Multi-sport Stadium has been named for the University of Notre Dame’s Dick Corbett Head Football Coach Brian Kelly ’83, HD’12 in recognition of his storied contributions to build the University’s football program in the 1980s and steadfast support for the University, including a generous challenge grant he has issued to alumni and friends of the institution. The stadium will now be known as the Brian Kelly ’83 Stadium.

Funds raised through the challenge grant will be used to enhance the baseball and softball fields, located on either side of the Brian Kelly ’83 Stadium. Of these enhancements, most notable will be the replacement of the current grass fields with turf, allowing for the extension of seasons and improved playing surfaces for sports such as baseball, softball, and soccer, thereby creating some of the finest baseball and softball facilities in the Northeast-10 Conference.  

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“My years at Assumption are some of the most memorable of my life,” said Kelly. “I was taught and mentored to become the man I am today, of which I am most grateful. I received a great education both in the classroom and on the playing field, but what I cherish most about my time at Assumption are the relationships I built along the way. I am humbled to receive this recognition. I always have been, and always will be, proud to be a Greyhound.”

“The University community, and in particular our students who participate in club,  intramural and varsity sports, are grateful to Brian and Paqui Kelly for the example they have demonstrated through their generosity and support of Assumption University,” said President Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D. “The Kellys’ donation and challenge grant will enable the University to make significant, and much-needed enhancements to the baseball and softball fields while establishing for the Kelly family a lasting legacy through the naming of the Brian Kelly ’83 Stadium. This gift is but one of many that Brian and Paqui have made to invest in the future of the University as it continues to provide students with opportunities to discover their vocation and explore timeless questions. The University community is grateful for this continued support.” 

Since graduating from Assumption, Kelly has maintained a close relationship with his alma mater. When serving as a Commencement speaker in 2012, Kelly announced the establishment of a $250,000 endowed scholarship for members of the Football program, which is matched by Assumption for female student-athletes. His generous donation to the Light the Way campaign, of which he serves as honorary chair, was recognized with the naming of the Brian and Paqui Kelly Atrium in the Tsotsis Family Academic Center. 

Kelly, who reflected on his time as a player at Assumption in a video broadcast during the virtual homecoming, said he and his teammates—some of whom are some of his closest friends to this day—worked hard to create something special with the Football program through hard work and dedication. “Assumption continues to form its young people to value hard work and grit as a means to success, and I’m grateful for the lessons I learned there,” he said. “As I look back on the effort we put in to build the program, I’m honored that I can continue to be a part of it many years later. I look forward to seeing the program’s identity continue to grow with that same dedication it taught me years ago.” 

“We are thrilled about the Brian Kelly ’83 Challenge and our new turf projects,” said Director of Athletics Christine Lowthert. “The turfing of the softball and baseball fields will also provide our soccer and lacrosse programs with a new competitive venue. These field enhancements will truly take the Department of Athletics to new heights. Our teams will have the flexibility to play and practice without the worry of field conditions and weather. The addition of these turf fields will contribute to our competitiveness not only within the Northeast-10 Conference, but also on a regional and national level. We are so thankful to Brian Kelly for his donation and challenge to us, and we look forward to meeting our goal.”

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Alyssa Bialakis ’21, a member of the Softball team and vice president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), shared that the new turf project means a lot to her.  “We have struggled for many years with our field not being playable because of snow or rain, and the turf will allow us to get as many games in so we can excel as a program,” she said.  “We, as a team, have fought for everything we have received, and this turf is the ultimate gift. As a senior, I may not be able to play on this new turf, but it is still important because the Softball athletes after me will have a facility that they can be proud of and play their best on. This turf project will not only benefit the Softball program directly but will benefit Athletics as a whole. More student-athletes will have the ability to improve their game. ‘If you build it, they will come,’ and I believe that this turf project will upgrade our athletics as a whole bringing in more talented student-athletes.”

In 2006, Kelly was inducted into the Assumption Athletics Hall of Fame in recognition of his contributions to the University’s football and softball programs. As a student-athlete, Kelly, who was a middle linebacker, was recognized with all-conference honors in the New England Collegiate Football Conference and set a school record for tackles (314 with 214 assists). 

“When I arrived at Assumption in 1979, the Football program was relatively new,” said Kelly, adding that under Coach Paul Cantiani CE’73, the team was able to build its own identity and found early success, even making it to the playoffs, an aspect of his time as a player and captain of which he said he is very proud. “Playing at Assumption taught me that success and pride don’t come easily. They take time, effort, and sweat. … At Assumption our commitment and dedication extended beyond the normal tasks—there was a time that we actually painted lines on the field before each game. We dictated how our program would be remembered, what type of players we became and attracted, and the success of the program for years to come.”  

After his time as a player, Kelly joined the Assumption Football team as a defensive coordinator in the 1980s and also served as head coach of the Softball team. As the Greyhounds Softball coach, Kelly amassed a 64-54 record with two Northeast-10 playoff games and a record 23-wins in that year. 

Following his coaching service at Assumption, Kelly joined the football program at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI, where he began as a graduate assistant and defensive secondary coach before being promoted to head coach. In his 13 seasons there, he amassed a 118-35-2 record and earned two national titles. The American Football Coaches Association named him Division II National Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2003. In 2003, Kelly became the head coach of Central Michigan University, where he coached the team to its first winning season in seven years and led the team to the Mid-American Conference Championship and qualifying for the Motor City Bowl. Following the Bowl win, Kelly joined the University of Cincinnati as its head coach, where in three years he amassed a 34-6 record. Under Kelly, the Cincinnati Bearcats had its second-ever 10 win season, won its first-ever Big East Conference title, and were victorious in the Bowl, and made appearances in the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl. While at Cincinnati, Kelly won the Big East Coach of the Year three times. 

In 2003 and 2004, Kelly coached in the Hula Bowl, an annual independently administered post-season invitational college football game held in Hawaii. 

As the Dick Corbett Head Football Coach at Notre Dame, a position he has held since 2009, Kelly has twice been named the Associated Press college football Coach of the Year, one of only three coaches to earn this designation. He was first honored in 2012 following an undefeated season and again in 2018 after leading the nationally ranked team to a perfect 12-0 season and an appearance in the new College Football Playoffs. In 2018, Kelly was also named The Home Depot Coach of the Year – the only coach to earn the recognition three times—and was awarded the Dodd Trophy, which, according to the Associated Press, honors “scholarship, leadership, integrity and success on the field” and is given to the nation’s top football coach.

Kelly graduated from Assumption with a B.A. in political science. He and his wife, Paqui, have three children: Patrick, Grace, and Kenzel.

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