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ND Women’s Basketball: Coach McGraw Announces Her Retirement

Where do I start? After a couple of weeks of not sitting down and writing, Wednesday night was going to be my night. Working from home in my home office, I had no inspiration to stay on my office chair after hours and write. Wednesday night was going to be a prelude to the NFL Draft. Early Wednesday afternoon after checking on an email about my new “The Shirt”, the bombshell was dropped, an invite to attend the Coach McGraw Zoom press conference on her retirement from coaching. I didn’t know how to react to the news. Shocked is all I can say.

Photo From University of Notre Dame Women’s Basketball

The Press Conference

Coach McGraw Opening Statement

“It has been my great honor to represent the University of Notre Dame these past 33 years, but the time has come for me to step down as your head coach. I want to thank Monk Malloy and Father Jenkins for giving me the opportunity to coach the game I love at a university I love. I’ve learned much about leadership from the many athletic directors with whom I have served. And in particular, I want to thank Jack Swarbrick for his unwavering support. I’m grateful to have worked with the best assistant coaches in the business and I have blessed been to coach so many phenomenal women.”

“To the best fans in the country, it was my honor and privilege to play for you. Matt and I want to thank everyone who has touched our lives and shared a part of our amazing journey, and we will treasure the memories for the rest of our lives.”

Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick Opening Statement

“Thanks coach. If you want to start a lively debate online or the next time we’re allowed to be in a watering hole, ask somebody who their Mount Rushmore is of anything best athletes, best whatever. You can’t have a discussion about the Mount Rushmore of Notre Dame coaches and not have Muffet McGraw on that list. She has contributed more to this school this University and its athletes than anyone. We will miss her tremendously. We will miss the influence she’s had on all of us. But we also honor this as a time to celebrate coach McGraw.”

“I’ve had a little time to prepare for this. She and I have talked over time about when she might choose to step down. But I really knew this day was coming a little more than a year ago. April 4th to be exact, when Muffet gave a press conference in Tampa. Where she talked about her passion for female leadership and creating role models that young women could look to, aspire to more in their futures. Muffet McGraw has been that role model and the platform she created that day is a platform she can now take greater advantage of with some time away from coaching.”

“Fortunately, she leaves behind an incredibly strong program with talented student athletes and coaches in the best possible condition. But perhaps the greatest Legacy she leaves behind a successor who she groomed, who she recruited to come to Notre Dame who led the team to a national championship as its point guard and has had great success in as an assistant coach with us. So as we honor coach McGraw and say goodbye to her we welcome the Niele Ivey as our new coach.” 

Measurement Of Excellence

Media Questions

Eric Hanson: “Why now?”

Coach McGraw Response: “Hey Eric, well that’s a great question . Although I have a long term contract, I think every year it’s really since the championship year I have looked and said you know let’s take one more year, let’s take it one year at a time, and looking ahead, and always excited about the next season. So this year, at the end of the season, once again, I looked at it as I did last year with five players going off to the draft I think a lot of people thought, maybe this is the year that she should retire. But when I looked ahead to what we had coming back. I knew that it was going to be a challenging season. And I thought, where’s the honor in that if I leave now.

So, I really wasn’t ready anyway so I put in for one more year. And now looking ahead to know we have a great recruiting class coming in, we’re ranked in the top 25 in the preseason poll, and I think the program is right back where it should be in poised to make another run to the Final Four so I feel like I’m leaving in the program and a good place, and also a chance for me to do something else. Turn the page, write a new chapter, and look at doing something else.”

Doug Feinberg: “What’s in store for your future? Is this retired coaching from Notre Dame, this is a retirement from coaching only?

Coach McGraw Response: “I plan to be around and help Jack with some special projects as he would have me serve a little bit more. I am excited about the opportunity to continue to promote women’s equality and to speak on behalf of all women, anywhere across the country, and to use my platform in any way that I can like to get more involved in community work. I find that I’ve turned into a real activist and I’m really enjoying that right now. So I have a lot of things in store and definitely a different page than I’ve been on.”

George Bashura -Shake Down The Thunder Sports: “What have you learned about yourself”

Coach McGraw Response: “I think you know, you learned so much more through adversity, you know, winning, I think it’s just it just is completely different. But when you go through a year. Like we did even in the championship year when we had all those injuries and so many ACLs and it just seems as though every time you, you get going, you get a gut punch to kind of bring you back to reality.”

“So I think the biggest thing I’ve learned never be too high or too low. Just take it one day at a time, you can’t look ahead and you have to appreciate the moment I think it’s so important to enjoy the present and I really had a hard time with that because we’d win a game and I’d immediately be focused on the next one and I continually talk to the team about, we’ve got to celebrate the victories celebrate the wins, and I wasn’t as good at doing that, I was a lot better this year because we’re so few of them.”

Twitter Response

Twitter was made for moments like this. Let’s dive into some of the responses to Coach Muffet McGraw’s announcement. You have to start with Coach McGraw’s tweet.

This Was A Special Moment

Time To Cut Down The Nets

Coach McGraw Stats

Coach McGraw is a stat machine. Coach McGraw’s stats over 33 years at Notre Dame is something that legends leave behind to be broken.

33 seasons at Notre Dame: 848-252 (.771)/38 seasons overall: 936-293 (.762)

Coach McGraw was the fourth fastest coach to 900 career wins behind Auriemma, Summitt and VanDerveer.

Sixth all-time among NCAA Division I coaches (fourth among active coaches) with 936 career wins.

Seven trips to the NCAA Division I national championship game, including six times in the past 10 years (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019) 

Nine trips to the NCAA Women’s Final Four (1997, 2001, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019) — ranks fifth behind Auriemma, Summitt, VanDerveer and Leon Barmore.

 She also ranks 11th all-time among Division I coaches with a .762 career winning percentage (ninth among active coaches)

17 NCAA Sweet 16 trips, all in the past 24 seasons (1997-2020). The Fighting Irish are one of four schools to make last 10 Sweet 16’s (UConn, Stanford and Baylor).

Made 26 NCAA tournament appearances (ranks seventh all-time and fourth among active coaches), including a current string of 24 consecutive NCAA berths (the fourth-longest active run of consecutive appearances and fifth-longest streak at any time in NCAA tournament history).

Her 67 NCAA Tournament wins rank fourth all-time and third among active coaches. She also boasts a .736 NCAA Tournament winning percentage (67-24), which ranks seventh all-time and fourth among active coaches. (stats courtesy of UND.com ND Women’s Basketball)

Closing Thoughts

Coach McGraw will be dearly missed. Being in her presence at the last home game in March against North Carolina was a special moment. When she asked everyone to hold up from leaving and addressed the fans for their love and support for a real tough season. I get goosebumps watching the video as that was her last stance on the court as the Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Head Coach.

Thank you coach for your commitment to the University of Notre Dame, your student athletes and your fans. Godspeed and Go Irish!🍀🏀⚡

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