Nov. 9, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has signed a five-year contract to continue as coach of the Fighting Irish women’s basketball program through the 2004-05 season.
“Muffet has done a tremendous job of elevating the Notre Dame program to the point where we can expect to be rated among the top women’s basketball teams in the country on a regular basis,” says Irish athletic director Kevin White.
“Coach McGraw has indeed demonstrated that Notre Dame can be a consistent player at the elite level of women’s basketball and this contract represents our mutual interest in advancing this respective level of achievement.”
McGraw has spent the last 13 seasons as Irish head coach (beginning with the 1987-88 season) — and her teams have won 20 or more games in 11 of those seasons, advancing to the NCAA tournament five straight years and seven of the last nine.
The last four years have comprised the most successful period in the history of the program, thanks to a combined 106-26 record. The Irish followed up their 1997 NCAA Final Four appearance and 31-7 record with an NCAA Sweet 16 appearance in ’98. Then came 26-5 and 27-5 marks the last two years that represent the top two seasons ever at Notre Dame in terms of winning percentage.
Other highlights of that period include Irish appearances in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll for all but two weeks of the 1999-2000 campaign — to go with a record 16 consecutive weeks in the top 10 the year before. Notre Dame won 20 straight games during the ’99-’00 season and currently is working on a 23-game homecourt victory streak. The Irish are 74-14 in regular-season BIG EAST Conference play during the McGraw era.
McGraw, a Naismith women’s basketball national coach of the year finalist each of the last two seasons, has compiled a 288-115 (.715) record in those 13 seasons with the Irish, including 10 postseason appearances overall. Her 18-year collegiate head coaching career includes a 376-156 (.707) mark, thanks to five previous seasons at Lehigh.
McGraw’s Notre Dame teams first played in the NCAA tournament in 1992 and ’94, claimed their first NCAA win in a victory over Purdue in ’96 and have been regulars on the NCAA scene ever since. She coached the Irish to five Midwestern Collegiate Conference Tournament titles between 1989 and ’94 and also saw her Irish squads qualify for the National Women’s Invitational Tournament in ’89, ’91 and ’95. She has earned coach-of-the-year honors from the East Coast Conference (’83), North Star Conference (’88) and MCC (’91).
Among the standouts she has coached are current senior center Ruth Riley, Notre Dame’s first AP first-team All-America selection as well as a first-team Academic All-America selection, along with current women’s professional basketball players Beth Morgan, Katryna Gaither (they each scored more than 2,000 points for the Irish) and Coquese Washington (she’s currently an assistant coach on McGraw’s staff).
The West Chester, Pa., native is a former player and assistant coach at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She coached two seasons at the high school level in Philadelphia, played one year for the professional California Dreams, then spent a year as an assistant at Saint Joseph’s before taking over at Lehigh.
McGraw has received an honorary monogram from the Notre Dame National Monogram Club and in ’97 was named an honorary alumna by the Notre Dame Alumni Association.
The announcement of McGraw’s contract comes after Notre Dame hockey coach Dave Poulin last month signed a multi-year agreement to continue in that position with the Irish.