March 5, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame head women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw has been selected as the 2009 recipient of the Carol Eckman Award by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), it was announced Thursday at the WBCA offices in Atlanta.
McGraw will be formally recognized at the WBCA Awards Luncheon on April 7 at noon (CT) in the Hyatt Regency St. Louis Riverfront Grand Ballroom. The WBCA Awards Luncheon is part of the WBCA National Convention held in conjunction with the 2009 NCAA Women’s Final Four in St. Louis, Mo.
The Carol Eckman Award is presented annually to an active WBCA coach who exemplifies Eckman’s spirit, integrity and character through sportsmanship, commitment to the student-athlete, honesty, ethical behavior, courage and dedication to purpose. The award is named in honor of the late Carol Eckman, the former West Chester (Pa.) State College coach who is considered the “Mother of the Women’s Collegiate Basketball Championship.” Eckman organized the first women’s basketball championship at West Chester in 1969 and continued to garner recognition and support for the women’s game until her death from cancer in 1985.
“It is always an honor for me to present the Carol Eckman Award because of what it represents,” WBCA CEO Beth Bass said. “This year, I am happy to present Muffet with the award as she demonstrates the qualities of the late Carol Eckman. Her dedication to the profession and to her student-athletes is outstanding.”
“I am extremely honored to have been chosen to receive the Carol Eckman Award from the WBCA,” McGraw said. “Carol Eckman was one of the true pioneers of our sport and to be mentioned in the same breath with her is particularly flattering. I want to thank Beth Bass, our WBCA president Sherri Coale and the entire WBCA family for this award — I am truly humbled and grateful.”
McGraw, herself a native of West Chester, Pa., is the second BIG EAST Conference coach in as many years to receive the Carol Eckman Award, following the selection of DePaul’s Doug Bruno in 2008. McGraw and Bruno have served together on the WBCA’s Board of Directors in recent years, with Bruno completing his two-year term (2005-06 to 2007-08) as the association’s president, while McGraw has been the Board’s NCAA Division I Legislative Chair since June 2005, when Bruno appointed her to the post.
Now in its 24th year, the WBCA’s Carol Eckman Award has honored some of the greats in women’s college basketball. In addition to Bruno, the list of recipients includes: Theresa Grentz, University of Illinois (2007); Gail Goestenkors, Duke University (2006); Bonnie Henrickson, University of Kansas (2005); Deirdre Kane, West Chester University (2004); Marsha Sharp, Texas Tech University (2003); Barbara Stevens, Bentley College (2002); Juliene Simpson, East Stroudsburg University (2001); Kathy Delaney-Smith, Harvard University (2000); Susan Summons, Miami-Dade (Fla.) Community College (1999); Kay James, University of Southern Mississippi (1998); Amy Ruley, North Dakota State University (1997); Dr. Joann Rutherford, University of Missouri (1996); Ceal Barry, University of Colorado (1995); the late Sue Gunter, Louisiana State University (1994); C. Vivian Stringer, University of Iowa (1993); Dr. Jill Hutchison, Illinois State University (1992); Marian Washington, University of Kansas (1991); Maryalyce Jeremiah, Cal State Fullerton (1990); Linda Hill-MacDonald, University of Minnesota (1989); the late Kay Yow, North Carolina State University (1988); Jody Conradt, University of Texas (1987), and Laura Mapp, Bridgewater College (1986).
McGraw is one of only eight active Division I coaches to guide her team to a national title — winning the crown in 2001. Her teams have also appeared in the NCAA Women’s Final Four in 1997 and have made seven trips to the NCAA Sweet 16 and 15 NCAA Tournament appearances, including a current string of 13 consecutive berths.
However, no other statistic provides more evidence of McGraw’s commitment to the student-athlete than her 100 percent graduation rate, a spotless 57-for-57, since arriving at Notre Dame in the summer of 1987.
Under McGraw’s guidance the past 13 seasons (1996-2008), the Irish have compiled an impressive 315-108 record, including a 166-50 regular-season mark in the BIG EAST, the second-best winning percentage in league history. She has coached an impressive 21 Irish players who have garnered all-conference honors, three conference players-of-the-year and rookies-of-the-year and 17 conference all-rookie team selections. No less than 16 Notre Dame student-athletes have gone on to play professionally, including nine who have either been drafted or signed as free agents with WNBA teams.
On the national level, McGraw has been widely regarded as a champion for student-athletes. In June 2002, McGraw accepted an invitation from U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige to join the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics and with this appointment became the only women’s basketball coach on the Commission. During the summer of 2004, McGraw served on the WBCA’s Special Committee on Recruiting and Access, which helped create numerous proposals to the NCAA that clarified and strengthened national recruiting guidelines.
On top of her tireless work at Notre Dame, McGraw often is called upon to be a featured speaker at various camps, luncheons and other fund-raisers around the country. For several years, she has been a co-chair for the annual “Run, Jan, Run” golf tournament, which benefits local chapters of the YWCA. McGraw also has helped coordinate the annual Coaches’ Car Wash, with proceeds going to the University’s fund-raising efforts for United Way, and in the summer of 2006, she served as honorary chair of “Jazz on the Terrace,” a concert and silent auction with proceeds benefitting the RiverBend Cancer Services in Michigan.
Notre Dame (21-7, 10-6) will return to the hardwood on Saturday at noon (ET) in the second round of the BIG EAST Championship at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. The fifth-seeded Irish have earned a first-round bye for the tournament and will take on either No. 12 seeded Syracuse or 13th-seeded St. John’s in that second-round game, which will be televised live on the BIG EAST Regional Sports Networks package, as well as on-line at www.bigeast.tv. The game also can be heard on the radio all across northern Indiana and southwest Michigan on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1), as well as worldwide on the Internet at the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.UND.com), with veteran broadcaster Bob Nagle on the call.
— ND —