July 2, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Muffet McGraw, the architect of one of the greatest NCAA women’s basketball programs during the past quarter-century and a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, has signed a landmark contract extension that will keep her firmly at the helm of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program through the 2021-22 season. The 10-year extension, which is believed to be one of the longest contract agreements in NCAA women’s basketball history, was announced Monday by Notre Dame vice president and director of athletics Jack Swarbrick.
“We are thrilled to be able to enter into a decade-long agreement with Muffet, who is not only the face of Notre Dame women’s basketball, but increasingly, the face of women’s basketball, given all that she’s accomplished,” Swarbrick said. “She’s taken this program to a place where it’s annually in the conversation for the national championships, which is the model all coaches want to follow. She’s also playing an important role in the game nationally, and her peers recognize those contributions, as well as the quality of her program here at Notre Dame. Off the court, she has created a program that has a lasting community identification and a special connection between the University and the city of South Bend, which is one of those unique points of intersection that universities have to be careful to build and maintain, and she’s done that for us in a really remarkable way.”
“For more than 25 years, Muffet has led our women’s basketball program and represented this University with distinction,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “Her teams have excelled on the court and in the classroom, and I am absolutely delighted that she will continue to lead the Irish for many more years.”
“It’s a privilege to be able to represent Notre Dame, in what is certainly the greatest job in the world, for another 10 years,” McGraw said. “I’ve been so blessed to work with some incredibly talented people, both in terms of the student-athletes that have come through Notre Dame, and the coaches and staff who have been part of our success through the years. We also have a tremendous administration, and I’m grateful to both Jack and Father Jenkins for their support, as well as the support of our amazing fans, who are absolutely the best in the country.”
The 2001 consensus National Coach of the Year and a five-time National Coach of the Year finalist, McGraw has compiled a sparkling 679-256 (.726) record in 30 seasons as a head coach, including a 591-215 (.733) record during her 25-year career at Notre Dame, placing her as the second-winningest coach (in any sport) in the 125-year history of Fighting Irish athletics. She currently ranks eighth among all active NCAA Division I women’s basketball coaches, and 14th all-time in Division I, for career victories, while also placing 13th among active coaches (across all three NCAA divisions), and 20th all-time (for all divisions), in that category. In addition, she is 17th among active Division I coaches, and 20th all-time, for career winning percentage, as well as seventh among active Division I coaches, and ninth all-time with 24 20-win seasons (the latter count including 22 20-win, nine 25-win and four 30-win campaigns at Notre Dame).
When it comes to postseason play, McGraw is among the very best to ever walk a college sideline. The longtime Fighting Irish coach has led Notre Dame to the 2001 NCAA national championship, along with three appearances in the NCAA national championship game (1997, 2011, 2012) and four trips to the NCAA Women’s Final Four (1997, 2001, 2011, 2012). McGraw is one of just three active Division I coaches (and seven all-time) to guide her teams to at least three NCAA national championship games, and she is part of an elite group of five active Division I coaches (and eight all-time) to make four NCAA Women’s Final Four appearances.
What’s more, McGraw has made Notre Dame a fixture in the NCAA Championship, leading the Fighting Irish to 19 tournament appearances (1992, 1994, 1996-2012), including a current streak of 17 consecutive berths that is the sixth-longest active string of its kind, as well as the eighth-longest run of consecutive appearances in the 31-year history of the NCAA tournament. Under McGraw’s tutelage, Notre Dame has reached the NCAA Sweet 16 (regional semifinals) 10 times in the past 16 seasons, and four times in the past five years, both feats that only six other programs in the country can match.
McGraw’s name also is peppered liberally throughout the NCAA Division I Championship record books. She is fourth in Women’s Final Four winning percentage (.571, 4-3 record), tied for eighth in tournament wins (37; also sixth among active coaches), 10th in both tournament winning percentage (.673, 37-18 record; also fourth among active coaches) and tournament games coached (55; also seventh among active coaches), and tied for 13th in tournament appearances (19; also tied for sixth among active coaches).
On the conference level, McGraw has experienced success no matter what loop her teams have played in. Since coming to Notre Dame prior to the 1987-88 season, she has a 310-82 (.791) career winning percentage in regular season conference games, including a 216-64 (.771) mark in the BIG EAST Conference, good for the second-highest winning percentage in BIG EAST history. McGraw’s Notre Dame teams also have earned seven regular season and five tournament titles across the three leagues the Fighting Irish have been affiliated with in that time (North Star from 1987-88; Midwestern Collegiate/Horizon League from 1988-95; BIG EAST from 1995 to present). For her efforts, McGraw has been named Coach of the Year in each of those three conferences (NSC in 1988, MCC in 1991, BIG EAST in 2001).
For all of her accolades, McGraw turned in one of the best coaching performances of her career in 2011-12, steering Notre Dame to a 35-4 record (setting a school record for wins), along with a second consecutive NCAA national championship game berth and the BIG EAST regular season title (by a full two games over its closest challengers). When the dust settled, the Fighting Irish had either set or tied 22 school records this past season, and ranked among the top 15 teams in the nation in 10 different NCAA statistical categories. Notre Dame also continued to be one of the top draws in women’s college basketball, placing among the top five in the final NCAA attendance rankings (and setting a school record for average attendance) for the third consecutive season with 8,571 fans per game, fueled by a school-record eight sellouts.
McGraw has helped lift the Fighting Irish into an even higher pantheon during the past three seasons, with Notre Dame posting a stellar 95-19 (.833) record that includes back-to-back NCAA national championship game appearances (plus a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2010), the first outright BIG EAST regular season championship in program history, and 10 wins against teams ranked among the top 10 in the Associated Press poll (as well as 19 victories against AP Top 25 opponents).
On a broader scale, McGraw has made Notre Dame a consistent presence in the AP poll during her 25-year career with 236 all-time appearances, good for ninth among active NCAA Division I coaches and 20th all-time since the poll debuted in 1976. The Fighting Irish also are the in midst of a school-record of 96 consecutive weeks in the AP poll (dating back to the start of the 2007-08 season), and they have spent 124 weeks among the top 10 teams in the media balloting, including a current run of 27 consecutive top-10 appearances (and the past 19 weeks among the AP Top 5).
McGraw has a well-deserved reputation as one of the nation’s premier big-game coaches and tacticians, piloting Notre Dame to 87 victories over nationally-ranked opponents, including 74 in the past 14 seasons (1997-2012). She has been especially sharp in the postseason with 13 wins over top-four seeds (including five against No. 1 seeds), most notably overseeing the ouster of Connecticut in the all three of their NCAA Women’s Final Four semifinal matchups (2001, 2011, 2012). The victories over the Huskies in the past two NCAA national semifinals made the Fighting Irish just the second team in tournament history to defeat the same opponent in consecutive Final Fours (Auburn downed Louisiana Tech in 1989 and 1990).
Throughout her career, success for McGraw has meant coaching great players. During her storied tenure, the Notre Dame skipper has coached 13 All-Americans, including 2001 consensus National Player of the Year Ruth Riley, and current Fighting Irish senior guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington), who was a consensus first-team All-America selection in 2012. McGraw also has worked with 14 players who have competed in international and/or domestic competition for their respective national teams (USA Basketball or Canada Basketball) — not counting incoming freshman guard Michaela Mabrey (Belmar, N.J./Manasquan), who will suit up for the 2012 USA Basketball Under-18 National Team at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Puerto Rico in August — with these players going on to win a total of 24 medals, including 10 gold medals (highlighted by Riley’s gold with the ’04 U.S. Olympic Team). In addition, McGraw has coached 24 players who have earned all-conference recognition a total of 54 times, including 18 first-team picks who have been chosen a total of 33 times, and has helped shape numerous other national award winners, namely two Frances Pomeroy Naismith award recipients (current Notre Dame assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Niele Ivey in 2001, Megan Duffy in 2006), the 2012 Nancy Lieberman Award recipient (Diggins), and 2002 United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year Jacqueline Batteast.
Another sign of McGraw’s success has been her ability to prepare her players for the next level. No less than 24 Notre Dame cagers have gone on to play professionally (domestically or overseas), including 11 who either have been drafted or signed as free agents with WNBA teams. The past 12 seasons have seen the greatest influx of Fighting Irish talent into the WNBA, with nine Notre Dame players having been selected in the league’s annual draft since 2001. Four of those players — Riley, Ivey, Kelley Siemon and Ericka Haney — were starters on the ’01 Fighting Irish NCAA championship team, and seven of the recent Fighting Irish WNBA draftees (Riley, Ivey, Batteast, Duffy, Charel Allen, Natalie Novosel and Devereaux Peters) earned All-America status during their careers at Notre Dame.
The 2012 WNBA Draft represented another milestone for McGraw and the Fighting Irish women’s basketball program, as Notre Dame had two players selected in the first round for the first time. Peters went No. 3 overall (the highest pick in school history, and first lottery selection) to the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx, while Novosel was chosen No. 8 overall by the Washington Mystics.
Academic excellence has been one of the cornerstones of McGraw’s philosophy at Notre Dame, and the numbers bear that out, with a perfect 100-percent graduation rate for all 66 student-athletes who have entered the program since 1987-88 (McGraw’s first season) and completed their athletic and academic eligibility at the University. The Fighting Irish also have posted a perfect 100-percent NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) score in each of the past five years, and they are one of just four programs in the country to record a perfect GSR score and play for the NCAA national championship in the same season (something they have now done the past two years). Both Riley and Duffy also garnered first-team Academic All-AmericaÂ® honors while playing for McGraw, with Riley being named the 2001 Academic All-AmericaÂ® Team Member of the Year (for both all sports and specifically for women’s basketball) and subsequently earning induction into the Academic All-AmericaÂ® Hall of Fame in 2012.
Dedicated to helping grow and further the sport in any way possible, McGraw has groomed 12 of her former players and/or assistant coaches who currently are serving on coaching staffs at either the high school or college level. Of those 12 proteges, four presently are Division I head coaches — Bill Fennelly (Iowa State), Kevin McGuff (Washington), Jonathan Tsipis (George Washington) and 1991 Notre Dame graduate Coquese Washington (Penn State). McGuff and Washington (along with current Fighting Irish associate head coach Carol Owens) comprised McGraw’s assistant coaching staff on Notre Dame’s 2001 NCAA national championship squad, while McGuff and Owens also were on staff for the Fighting Irish during their run to the 1997 NCAA Women’s Final Four, and Owens teamed with Tsipis (and Ivey) to form McGraw’s coaching staff for Notre Dame’s last two NCAA national finalist teams in 2011 and 2012.
McGraw also continues to give back to the game of basketball through her work as a member of numerous national committees. She was the lone coach chosen by then-U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige to serve on the 2002 Commission on Opportunity in Athletics (which examined ways to strengthen Title IX), and she also served on the USA Basketball Women’s Collegiate Committee (now known as the Women’s Junior National Team Committee). In addition, McGraw has spent time as a prominent voice within the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) on its Board of Directors (Division I legislative chair from 2005-11) and as part of its Special Committee on Recruiting & Access in 2004, earning McGraw the WBCA’s Carol Eckman Award in 2009 for her spirit, integrity and character that mirrored that of the award’s namesake. In September, McGraw will complete a two-year term as the chair of the NCAA’s Division I Women’s Basketball Issues Committee.
A native of West Chester, Pa., McGraw received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Saint Joseph’s University (Pa.) in 1977. Following graduation, she coached for two seasons at Philadelphia’s Archbishop Carroll High School (50-3 record) and two more at her alma mater as an assistant coach under Jim Foster (now the head coach at Ohio State). In 1982, McGraw was named head coach at Lehigh University, her teams finishing 88-41 (.683) during her five-year tenure, while winning the 1986 East Coast Conference title — she also was the ECC Coach of the Year in 1983.
McGraw and her husband, Matt, will celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary later this year and make their home in Granger, Ind. They are the proud parents of son Murphy, who is a 2012 graduate of Indiana University.
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— ND —