Notre Dame's Muffet McGraw retires; won 2 national titles

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw abruptly retired Wednesday after a Hall of Fame coaching career that includes two national championships in 33 seasons.

Posted: Apr 22, 2020 3:41 PM
Updated: Apr 22, 2020 3:59 PM

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw abruptly retired Wednesday after a Hall of Fame coaching career that includes two national championships in 33 seasons.

The 64-year-old McGraw became the 13th woman inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017. She won 936 games, ranking sixth among Division I coaches, with 842 coming at Notre Dame.

She was expected to discuss her decision during a late afternoon online news conference.

“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 basketball coach,” McGraw said in a statement.

McGraw is one of five Division I men’s or women’s basketball coaches with at least 930 wins, nine Final Fours and multiple titles. Her national championships were won in 2001 and 2018.

“I am proud of what we have accomplished and I can turn the page to the next chapter in my life with no regrets, knowing that I gave it my best every day,” said McGraw, a four-time winner of the AP women’s basketball Coach of the Year.

Former Fighting Irish player and longtime assistant coach Niele Ivey will take over Notre Dame. Ivey stepped away this past year to join the Memphis Grizzlies staff after 17 seasons at Notre Dame.

The Irish are coming off a rare down season as the young, inexperienced team went 13-18 in the program’s first losing season since 1991-92.

McGraw, a Pennsylvania native, said she plans to remain active in the university and local communities.

“It is inevitable and appropriate that as we mark Muffet’s retirement from coaching today, much of the focus will be on the remarkable record of competitive success that makes her a Hall of Fame coach,” athletic director Jack Swarbrick said. “But my reflections go more to her as an educator, friend and role model. Every time I had the privilege of stepping into her classroom, be it at practice or courtside during a game, I was struck by how much she cared about her students and how important it was for her to use basketball as a vehicle to help develop future leaders.”

McGraw sent 20 players to the WNBA during her coaching career, including Skylar Diggins-Smith, Kayle McBride, Arike Ogunbowale and Ruth Riley.

“There’s something about her that makes you want to move a mountain for her. I believe it’s how much she cares about her players,” Diggins-Smith said.

The Irish reached nine Final Four and won 67 NCAA Tournament games under McGraw. Notre Dame’s string of 24 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances remains intact, per the NCAA’s ruling following the cancellation of this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Before coming to Notre Dame, McGraw got her start as an assistant at her alma mater Saint Joseph’s before taking over as head coach at Lehigh in 1982 until she left for the Irish after the 1987 season.

“Muffet has meant so much to our game for as long as I can remember,” North Carolina coach Courtney Banghart said. “As a woman, a mom, a leader, and a national champion, she was someone so many could look up to. ... She cemented her legacy with how much she gave always back to the game and wanted more opportunities for young coaches to get into it.”

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