Tribe names Brian Earl as new men’s basketball head coach

JULIANA GOMIEN // THE FLAT HAT Earl served as the Cornell men's basketball head coach for seven seasons. Under his leadership, the Big Red appeared in the Ivy League Tournament three times.

Wednesday, March 27, William and Mary Athletics Director Brian D. Mann formally introduced Brian Earl as the Tribe’s 32nd men’s basketball head coach. Both Mann and Earl spoke at a public press conference at Zable Stadium’s President’s Suite in Williamsburg, Va.

Mann believes Earl’s experience as a player and coach will contribute to Tribe basketball’s future success.

“His intellectual ability to evaluate, to figure out how to find those gaps and create schemes that put our players in positions to succeed and his never-ending commitment to that approach is what’s going to make sure we’re competing at the highest levels of the CAA,” Mann said.

Mann outlined the hiring process, emphasizing Earl’s connection to William and Mary’s values as both a coach and a person.

“We doubled down on our commitment to who we are, which is to provide student-athletes access to a world-class education, to compete for and win championships and to make sure they’re prepared for what’s next,” Mann said. “We found someone who has those qualities in his DNA.”

Honored as the 1999 Ivy League Player of the Year, Earl won 95 games across four seasons during his collegiate career at Princeton. Earl also set the Ivy League record of 281 three-pointers over the course of his career, all while helping the Tigers reach the National Collegiate Athletics Association Tournament multiple times.

“The coaches there taught me a lot about life and how to be a young man,” Earl said. “They taught me hard work, teamwork and sacrifice.”

Following his graduation, Earl played in the United States Basketball League and the Eastern Basketball Alliance, taking his talent overseas to both Germany and England.

Earl returned to Princeton in 2007, where he kicked off his coaching career as an assistant coach. There, he worked under former teammates Mitchell Henderson and Sydney Johnson.

From 2016 to 2024, Earl served as Cornell’s head coach, where he led the Big Red to three Ivy League Tournament appearances and numerous offensive achievements. During the 2023-24 season, Cornell tied for the second-most victories in program history with 22 wins, averaging 82.1 points per game. This winter, the team ranked No. 17 in scoring offense nationally, finishing the regular season with an Rating Percentage Index of 49.

Mann identified Earl’s steadfast commitment to his players and the game as a distinguishing quality, particularly during the COVID-19 era. Though the Ivy League did not compete during the 2020-21 season, Earl seized the opportunity to evaluate the team’s play.

“He made significant changes to how he was operating, how they were running the program and what came next,” Mann said. “Over the next few years, he was able to effectively institute those changes and build them into a program that won 22 games this year.”

Earl credits his former players to the Big Red’s success this past year.

“This is not ‘goodbye,’ it’s ‘see you later’ for those Cornell guys,” Earl said. “I hope to stay in touch with them forever.”

Earl also attributes his success as a coach to his family members. His father played forward for Rutgers, and his brother played at Penn State and currently serves as head coach at Chattanooga.

Earl and his brother are one of five active sets of brothers directing Division I basketball programs.

“There’s not a lot of people telling you constructive criticism, and my brother is someone I lean on to be able to say, ‘You went too far,’” Earl said. “I lean on him a lot as a trusted advisor, and I’m glad for him.”

Earl also expressed gratitude for the support of his wife and three sons during the hiring process.

Earl said his decision to take the head coach position at William and Mary was a “no brainer.” Drawn to the school’s strong academic culture, he looks forward to seeing his athletes develop both on and off the court.

“Having been at the institution that I went to and graduated from, what I know is the impact of a William and Mary degree is invaluable as you go into your life after basketball,” Earl said. “I’ve been in institutions where players I’ve coached, teammates I’ve played with, classmates are running the world, and that’s what our alumni will do in the world.”

Additionally, Earl plans to recruit players who understand the value of a William and Mary degree.

“We have exceptional young men here who I promise will represent William and Mary basketball and William and Mary as an institution every day on campus,” Earl said.

This past season, Tribe basketball faced several injuries, going 10-23 overall and 4-14 in in-conference play. Earl hopes to rebound by building on the team’s strengths while targeting areas for improvement.

“We want to play fast with my teams,” Earl said. “I’m ready and willing and excited to work with the guys.”

The team also looks forward to an increased pace of play next season.

“I think our play style will change, and I think we will play a lot faster this year,” sophomore guard Chase Lowe said. “I am most excited to play fast and get up and down in transition.”

Though his time at William and Mary has just begun, Earl has already identified his coaching style as a change for players.

“They have a group that’s incredibly close, which is good to see,” Earl said. “There’s a lot of moving parts.”

Lowe — whom Earl recruited to Cornell — is optimistic about Tribe basketball’s future and looks forward to collaborating with Earl again.

“We built a good relationship through the recruitment process,” Lowe said.

Ultimately, Earl hopes to build Tribe basketball into a winning program for the William and Mary community.

“I think the most important thing that I want to do going forward is when our students or staff or faculty or alumni watch us play, they say, ‘Those guys play hard, and I’m proud of them,’” Earl said.


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