Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly makes a call during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA College football game against Ohio State , Friday, Jan. 1, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Ross D. Franklin
January 29, 2016

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Brian Kelly has agreed to a six-year contract to stay on as coach at Notre Dame through the 2021 season.

The deal announced Friday by athletic director Jack Swarbrick would make the 54-year-old Kelly, who has been at the school six seasons, the second-longest serving Irish coach in history. Knute Rockne coached 13 seasons from 1918-1930 before he died in a plane crash in Kansas at age 43.

Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz all coached the Irish 11 seasons.

Swarbrick, who hired Kelly after firing Charlie Weis following the 2009 season, said he is excited about the future of the program under Kelly.

''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.

Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The announcement comes five days before signing day, with Kelly on the road recruiting.

Kelly thanked the university's leadership for their confidence in him in a statement released by the school.

''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,'' he said.

Kelly upset some Irish fans when he interviewed for the head coaching job with the Philadelphia Eagles immediately after the Irish were routed 42-14 by Alabama 42-14 in the national championship three years ago. But he told reporters last month in the days leading up to the Fiesta Bowl that he wasn't curious anymore about coaching in the NFL.

Kelly is 55-23 at Notre Dame, a winning percentage of .705, which is markedly better than his three predecessors, but well behind famed Irish coaches Rockne (.881), Leahy (.855), Parseghian (.836) and Holtz (.765). He also has not won a national championship. His career winning percentage of .737 ranks seventh among active FBS coaches.

He has led the Irish to six straight winning seasons and six straight bowl games, going 3-3 in those games.

Kelly originally signed a five-year contract at Notre Dame, then signed a two-year extension before the 2012 season and a five-year contract before the start of the 2013 season.

The Irish, who finished 10-3 and ranked No. 11 last season, open the 2016 season at Texas on Sept. 3.

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