Oct. 11, 2016
By Leigh Torbin
Entering her 30th year at Notre Dame and 35th as a collegiate head coach, Muffet McGraw’s legacy of success on the court is visible in the plethora of banners hanging above the Purcell Pavilion court. Her legacy of success off the court is plainly visible in the scores of Irish women’s basketball alumni who have been successful in their professions and life.
This dual-success has been recognized by the John R. Wooden Award Committee which on Tuesday announced McGraw as its 2017 Legends of Coaching Award recipient.
The lifetime achievement award is presented to a singular college basketball coach who exemplifies Wooden’s high standards of coaching success and personal achievement. The accolade is just the latest national honor for McGraw – the only three-time consensus national coach of the year.
An enshrine in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and a 2016 finalist for induction in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, McGraw is the third woman to receive the Legends of Coaching Award – an accolade which was first bestowed in 1999 upon Dean Smith of North Carolina. Its 18th recipient, McGraw joins Tennessee’s Pat Summitt and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer as the lone female honorees.
“It’s humbling to receive an award like this, particularly one which factors in coach Wooden’s collegiate ideals off the court as well as on the court,” said McGraw, the Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women’s Basketball Coach. “It really is a credit to all of the great student-athletes and assistant coaches I have been lucky enough to work with during my career. I am grateful for this honor and to be included with these legends of college coaching.”
The winningest single-sport coach in Notre Dame history with 732 victories for the Irish, McGraw has guided Notre Dame to 23 NCAA Championship appearances, seven Final Fours (including five in a row from 2011-15) and the 2001 national championship. McGraw is one of just five coaches of any gender with 800 career wins, seven Final Fours and five appearances in the NCAA championship game, joining Smith, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Summitt and UConn’s Geno Auriemma.
Off of the court, Notre Dame has scored a perfect 100-percent NCAA Graduation Success Rate in seven of the last eight years. Meanwhile, McGraw is involved in numerous charitable endeavors around the Michiana area and beyond, providing the all-around example of success worthy of the hallowed Wooden legacy.
The award will be presented in April at the College Basketball Awards show.
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.