"If we searched for an entire year. I don't think we would find anyone better suited for our program."
With those words, former Notre Dame director of athletics Gene Corrigan announced the hiring of Muffet McGraw as the third head coach of the Fighting Irish women's basketball program on May 18, 1987. Ask anyone familiar with women's basketball about Muffet McGraw and her Notre Dame program and inevitably, you'll hear the same two words -- consistency and excellence. And it's no wonder, when you consider what McGraw and the Fighting Irish have achieved in the past 31 seasons:
• Two national championships. The first came in 2001, when the Irish defeated Purdue, 68-66. The second came exactly 17 years later to the date (both on Easter Sundays), when the Irish emerged with the 61-58 victory on Arike Ogunbowale's buzzer beater over Mississippi State.
• Coach McGraw became the sixth different coach with multiple NCAA titles, joining Geno Auriemma, Pat Summitt, Linda Sharp, Tara VanDerveer and Kim Mulkey.
• A Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer (2017). Was also inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame (2014) and the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame (2011).
• Six trips to the NCAA Division I national championship game, including five times in the past eight years (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018). McGraw is one of just two active Division I coaches (and four all-time) with at least six appearances in the NCAA national championship game. In addition, Notre Dame is the only ACC school ever to reach back-to-back national championship games.
• Eight trips to the NCAA Women's Final Four (1997, 2001, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018), which ranks third behind Auriemma and Summitt.
• One of five coaches (men's or women's basketball) in NCAA Division I history with 875 wins, eight Final Fours and multiple NCAA championships -- others are Summitt, Auriemma, Duke men's coach Mike Krzyzewski and the late North Carolina men's coach Dean Smith.
• Her 62 NCAA Tournament wins rank third all-time.
• Three-time consensus National Coach of the Year, sweeping the four major coaching honors (Associated Press, WBCA, Naismith Award and USBWA) in 2001, 2013 and 2014. McGraw is one-of-two NCAA Division I coaches to sweep the "Big Four" awards three times in her career.
• Was named the 2018 Associated Press, espnW and USA Today Coach of the Year, in addition to being named a Naismith Coach of the Year semifinalist.
• Seven-time conference Coach of the Year, most recently collecting her second ACC Coach of the Year trophy in 2016. McGraw has earned her seven coaching honors in five different conferences during her career (the past six awards while at Notre Dame), having also garnered accolades in the East Coast (1983 - at Lehigh), North Star (1988), Midwestern Collegiate/Horizon League (1991), BIG EAST (2001, 2013) and Atlantic Coast (2014, 2016) conferences.
• Eighth all-time among NCAA Division I coaches (fifth among active coaches) with 888 career wins. Coach McGraw is currently on pace to become the fourth fastest coach to 900 career wins behind Auriemma, Summitt and VanDerveer.
• Eighth all-time among Division I coaches (fifth among active coaches) with a .766 career winning percentage.
• Tied for sixth all-time among NCAA Division I coaches (fifth among active coaches) with 30, 20-win seasons, including 28 of her 31 seasons at Notre Dame, as well as 24 in the past 25 years (1993-2018). The Fighting Irish also have posted 15 25-win seasons, 10 30-win campaigns and five 35-win seasons in the past 21 years (1997-2018) under McGraw's tutelage.
• Made 25 NCAA tournament appearances, including a current string of 23 consecutive NCAA tournament berths (the fourth-longest active run of consecutive appearances and fifth-longest streak at any time in NCAA tournament history).
• 16 NCAA Sweet 16 trips, all in the past 22 seasons (1997-2018). The Fighting Irish are one of four schools to make last nine Sweet 16's (UConn, Stanford and Baylor). Irish have reached eight Elite Eights. Notre Dame and UConn are the only teams to reach the Elite Eight seven times in the past eight years.
• Won 15 conference regular-season titles, including the past seven in a row in both the BIG EAST (2012, 2013) and ACC (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018). The seven straight is the third highest active streak in the country behind Baylor (8) and Green Bay (20). Furthermore, the five straight ACC titles is one shy of the all-time mark set by Virginia from 1991-96.
• The Fighting Irish have run the conference table three times in the above mentioned span, going 16-0 in both the BIG EAST (2013) and ACC (2014, 2016), the latter being the first 16-0 records by an ACC school since 2002-03. Furthermore, Notre Dame is 106-4 now over the last seven years against conference opposition.
• Earned 10 conference tournament championships, including five in the last six seasons: BIG EAST (2013) and ACC (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017).
• Notre Dame became only the second ACC school ever to sweep the conference's regular season and tournament titles in four straight seasons (2014-17), along with Duke (2001-04).
• The Irish are an impressive 77-3 against league schools since joining the ACC for the 2013-14 season. Notre Dame is 40-0 inside Purcell Pavilion against ACC foes.
• Notre Dame is 387-58 all-time inside Purcell Pavilion under Coach McGraw, good for an .870 winning percentage. In addition, the Irish currently boast a 25-game win streak at home. The Irish have sold out Purcell Pavilion 51 times and boasts a 42-9 record in those instances, including winners of 33 of their last 37.• Collected 158 wins over ranked opponents, including 87 over the last six years. In addition, 60 of those 158 wins have come against top-10 opponents, including 21 against top-five teams and five against No. 1-ranked squads.
• Made 351 appearances in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, including an active school-record streak of 212 consecutive weeks in the AP poll. The 212 straight weeks ranks third best. McGraw is sixth among active Division I coaches and 10th all-time in AP poll appearances (through the final regular season 2017-18 poll). Notre Dame also has spent 241 weeks all-time ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation, including each of the last 143 since 2010-11. The 143 straight ranks second.
• 20 consecutive top-20 recruiting classes from 1997-2016. Notre Dame was one of just three programs in the nation that owned an active streak of that length. Reeled in the No. 6 recruiting class in 2018.
• Defeated UConn four times in the NCAA Tournament, more than doubling the next team's total on the list. Overall, over the last 10 years, Notre Dame has defeated UConn eight times. Meanwhile, all other Division I teams have combined for six wins.
• Finished their 18-year BIG EAST tenure with the second-best winning percentage (232-64, .784) in that league's history.
• Ranks first on the all-time wins list among single sport coaches in the 129-year history of Fighting Irish athletics.
• Earned a perfect 100-percent NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) score from 2004-2014. In that time, Notre Dame was one of four programs in the country to record a perfect GSR and go on to play for the national title later that same season (something the Fighting Irish did in 2010-11, 2011-12, 2013-14).
McGraw's post at Notre Dame was enhanced on Feb. 16, 2015, when one of her former players, point guard Karen (Robinson) Keyes ('91) and her husband, Kevin, made a $5 million gift to their alma mater to endow its head women's basketball coaching position, now known as the Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women's Basketball Coach. It's also believed to be the largest endowment gift of its kind in NCAA women's basketball history, as well as the first endowed coaching position of any sort in Notre Dame athletics history.
"Muffet is one of the most important influences in our lives," Karen Keyes said. "We are proud to honor her, recognize her dedication to the University and continue to admire all of the successful women she has coached and developed over her entire career."
Success for McGraw also has meant coaching great players. During her illustrious career, the Notre Dame skipper has coached:
• Two National Players of the Year in Ruth Riley and Jewell Loyd. Two Frances Pomeroy Naismith award winners in Niele Ivey and Megan Duffy. Nancy Lieberman & Dawn Staley Award winner Skylar Diggins-Smith. Two National Freshman of the Year selections in Jacqueline Batteast in Loyd.
• Two different Olympians in Ruth Riley and Natalie Achonwa.
• Five different CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, including two CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Famers in Riley and Carol Lally.
• Nine NCAA Tournament Regional Most Outstanding Players and 11 Final Four All-Tournament Team honorees.
• 17 players that went on to the WNBA, including 14 WNBA Draft pics in the past 18 years. The Irish pro surge included the school's first four WNBA lottery picks (Devereaux Peters in 2012 to Minnesota; Diggins-Smith in 2013 to Tulsa/now the Dallas Wings; Kayla McBride in 2014 to San Antonio now Las Vegas Aces, all with the No. 3 overall choice, before Loyd became the program's first-ever No. 1 WNBA Draft pick in 2015 by Seattle), making the Fighting Irish the only program in the history of the WNBA Draft to produce top-four lottery selections in four consecutive seasons. Lastly, those players have thrived in the WNBA, producing a combined six WNBA championships.
• 20 All-Americans, including 2001 consensus National Player of the Year Ruth Riley, 2015 espnW National Player of the Year Jewell Loyd and four-time All-American (and two-time consensus first-team All-America choice) Skylar Diggins.
• 21 players who have been selected for USA or Canada Basketball National Teams, with those players going on to win a total of 41 medals, including 26 golds.
• 34 different players who have earned all-conference recognition a total of 79 times, including 27 first-team picks who have been chosen a total of 51 times.
A native of West Chester, Pennsylvania, McGraw earned her bachelor's degree in sociology from Saint Joseph's University (Pa.) in 1977. McGraw and her husband, Matt, celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary in 2017 and make their home in Granger, Indiana. They are the proud parents of 28-year-old son Murphy, a 2012 Indiana University graduate.