Dec. 22, 2016
By Leigh Torbin
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Already enshrined in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, Notre Dame’s Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women’s Basketball Coach Muffet McGraw took a step towards the sport’s ultimate lifetime honor as she has been included on the list of nominees for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017.
A finalist for enshrinement in 2016, McGraw joins a star-studded field which will be pared to a list of finalists to be announced on Feb. 18 at the NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans and then ultimately to the list of enshrinees, to be announced on April 3 at the men’s basketball Final Four in Glendale, Arizona.
McGraw, who guided the Irish to the 2001 national championship and seven Final Four appearances, is the winningest single-sport coach in Irish lore with 743 wins. Over her 30-year coaching career, McGraw is 831-265 (.758), making her the sixth-winningest active coach nationally and the 10th-winningest all-time at the Division I level.
She is the 2017 recipient of the Wooden Awards’ Legends of Coaching Award, becoming just the third female to receive this honor, joining Tennessee’s Pat Summitt and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer. She is the fourth women’s coach to be recognized with this honor, joining Summitt, VanDerveer and UConn’s Geno Auriemma.
Among her countless other career highlights:
* She is one of five coaches (men’s or women’s) in Division I history with 800 wins, seven Final Fours and five NCAA title game appearances, joining the elite company of Summitt, Auriemma, Duke men’s coach Mike Krzyzewski and the late North Carolina men’s coach Dean Smith, all of whom are enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
* McGraw is the only coach to be named the consensus national coach of the year three times, sweeping the Associated Press, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, Naismith Award and United States Basketball Writers Association honors in 2001, 2013 and 2014.
* Only four coaches have ever competed in the national championship game five times and McGraw is joined in this lofty regard by Hall of Famers Summitt, Auriemma and Louisiana Tech’s Leon Barmore. The Irish reached the sport’s final game in 2001, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015.
* Her decades of consistent winning includes guiding the Irish to 14 Sweet 16 appearances in the past 20 years, making Notre Dame one of just five teams nationally to do so.
* McGraw’s 28 20-win seasons ties her mentor at St. Joseph’s, Jim Foster, for eighth in Division I history.
* Over the past six seasons, only UConn (195) has won more games than Notre Dame’s 187.
* Under McGraw, Notre Dame has made 23 NCAA Championship appearances, including a current string of 21 consecutive NCAA tournament berths, marking the fifth-longest active run of consecutive appearances and seventh-longest streak at any time in NCAA tournament history. During this current streak (1996-2016), Notre Dame has won at least one NCAA postseason game 19 times.
* Notre Dame’s current stretch of 24 consecutive winning seasons, all under McGraw, is tied for the ninth-longest in NCAA history.
* McGraw has led the Irish to eight regular season or tournament conference championships. Notre Dame is presently three-time defending champions of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
* Her lasting legacy of mentoring successful people along with merely successful players is reflected in having perfect NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) score in seven of the past nine years (2007-16). In that time, Notre Dame is one of four programs in the country to record a perfect GSR score and go on to play for the national title later that same season (something the Fighting Irish have now done four times, most recently in 2015).
McGraw’s current Irish team is ranked No. 2 in the nation and stands at 11-1, marking the ninth time in the past 10 seasons that Notre Dame has started 11-1 or better. Riding a 14-game road winning streak, tied for 12th-longest in NCAA history, the Irish return to the court at Chattanooga on Dec. 27 before beginning ACC play on Dec. 29 at NC State.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications associate director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame’s women’s basketball and men’s golf teams. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.