Notre Dame faces former BIG EAST rival for fourth consecutive year at Final Four, and fifth overall (8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN/WatchESPN; listen on Michiana's Pulse FM or nationwide on Westwood One/NCAA Radio Network).
Debuted each year at the OSCARS - the year-end highlight video provides a look back at all 26 varsity sports competed at the University of Notre Dame and is created in cooperation with the Student Welfare and Development Office and LeSea Broadcasting.
Notre Dame defeats Oklahoma State, 89-72, in the NCAA Tournament
Entering 28th season at Notre Dame in 2014-15: 663-218 (.753)
33rd season overall: 751-259 (.744)
"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. Corrigan may not have realized it at the time, but he also ushered in an era of unparalleled success in women's basketball at Notre Dame, brought to life on the shoulders of a 5-foot-6 dynamo who accepts nothing less than the very best from herself, her players and her program.
Ask anyone familiar with women's basketball about 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 27 seasons:
The 2001 NCAA national championship, defeating Purdue in the title game, 68-66. McGraw is one of only seven active Division I coaches to guide her team to a national title.
Four trips to the NCAA Division I national championship game, including three of the past four NCAA title contests (2011, 2012, 2014). McGraw is one of just three active Division I coaches (and five all-time) with at least four appearances in the NCAA national championship game.
Six trips to the NCAA Women's Final Four, including each of the past four seasons (1997, 2001, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014). McGraw is one of just three active Division I coaches (and five all-time) to lead her team to six Women's Final Four appearances.
12 NCAA Sweet Sixteen trips, all in the past 18 seasons (1997-2014). The Fighting Irish are one of five programs in the nation that can make that claim.
Three-time consensus National Coach of the Year, sweeping the four major coaching honors (Associated Press, WBCA, Naismith Trophy and USBWA) in 2001, 2013 and 2014. McGraw is the first NCAA Division I coach ever to sweep the "Big Four" awards three times in her career, and just the second to do so in consecutive years.
Six-time conference Coach of the Year, most recently collecting her first ACC Coach of the Year trophy in 2014. McGraw has earned top coaching honors in five different conferences during her career (the past four while at Notre Dame), having also garnered accolades in the East Coast (1983 - at Lehigh), North Star (1988), Midwestern Collegiate/Horizon League (1991) and BIG EAST (2001, 2013) conferences.
Ranks eighth among active NCAA Division I coaches (10th all-time) with 751 career wins (reaching the 700-win milestone on Feb. 5, 2013, at Villanova in her 957th game, making her the eighth-fastest to 700 wins in Division I history) and 14th among active Division I coaches with a .744 all-time winning percentage. McGraw coached in her 1,000th game on Feb. 27, 2014, against No. 14/11 North Carolina (W, 100-75).
Ranks seventh among active NCAA Division I coaches with 26 20-win seasons, including 24 seasons at Notre Dame with 20-or-more victories, as well as 20 in the past 21 years (1993-2014). Notre Dame also has posted 11 25-win seasons, six 30-win campaigns and three 35-win seasons in the past 18 years (1997-2014).
21 NCAA tournament appearances, including a current string of 19 consecutive NCAA tournament berths (the sixth-longest active run of consecutive appearances and eighth-longest streak at any time in NCAA tournament history). During this current streak (1996-2014), Notre Dame has won at least one NCAA postseason game 17 times.
112 wins over ranked opponents, including 98 in the past 16 seasons alone (1998-2014). In addition, 43 of those wins have come against top-10 opponents, including 15 against top-five teams and four against No. 1-ranked squads.
275 appearances in the Associated Press Top 25 poll (including an active school-record streak of 136 consecutive weeks in the AP poll). McGraw is eighth among active Division I coaches and 16th all-time in AP poll appearances (as of the final 2013-14 poll). Notre Dame also has spent 164 weeks ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation, all in the past 18 seasons (1997-2014).
Nine conference titles, including the past three in a row outright in both the BIG EAST (2012, 2013) and ACC (2014). The Fighting Irish also have run the table in their last two conference seasons, going 16-0 in both the BIG EAST (2012-13) and ACC (2013-14), the latter being the first 16-0 record by an ACC school in 11 seasons. What's more, under McGraw's guidance, Notre Dame has placed among the top four in the final conference standings 24 times in the past 27 seasons.
Seven conference tournament championships, including each of the past two seasons as members of the BIG EAST (2013) and ACC (2014).
18 consecutive top-20 recruiting classes, dating back to the incoming class of 1997 (and including the incoming class of 2014, ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation). Notre Dame is one of just three programs in the nation that owns an active streak of that length.
Ranks second on the all-time wins list (regardless of sport) in 127-year history of Fighting Irish athletics, trailing only former men's/women's fencing coach Michael DeCicco (774-80 combined record from 1962-95).
Far and away the winningest basketball coach (men's or women's) in school history, with noted men's skipper Digger Phelps second on that list (393 wins).
A perfect 100-percent NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) score in each of the past six years (2007-13). Notre Dame also is one of only four programs in the country to record a perfect GSR and go on to play for the national title in the same season (something the Fighting Irish did in 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2013-14).
Add it all up and you have the framework for a Hall of Fame career. And, on June 11, 2011, that's exactly what McGraw became, as she officially was the first Notre Dame representative to be inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, an accomplishment now immortalized with a banner hanging in Purcell Pavilion.
Still, with all of those accomplishments in hand, McGraw has shown no signs of slowing down any time soon. In July 2012, the veteran head coach signed a landmark 10-year contract extension (believed to be among the longest contract agreements in NCAA women's basketball history) that will keep her patrolling the Fighting Irish sidelines through the 2021-22 campaign.
"For more than 25 years, Muffet has led our women's basketball program and represented this University with distinction," said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame's president. "Her teams have excelled on the court and in the classroom, and I am absolutely delighted that she will continue to lead the Irish for many more years."
"We are thrilled to be able to enter into a decade-long agreement with Muffet, who is not only the face of Notre Dame women's basketball, but increasingly, the face of women's basketball, given all that she's accomplished," said University vice president and director of athletics Jack Swarbrick. "She's taken this program to a place where it's annually in the conversation for the national championship, which is the model all coaches want to follow. She's also playing an important role in the game nationally, and her peers recognize those contributions, as well as the quality of her program here at Notre Dame. Off the court, she has created a program that has a lasting community identification and a special connection between the University and the city of South Bend, which is one of those unique points of intersection that universities have to be careful to build and maintain, and she's done that for us in a really remarkable way."
Under McGraw's guidance, the past 19 seasons (1995-96 to 2013-14) have been the most successful in Notre Dame's history, reflecting the program's remarkable BIG EAST Conference era and transition to its current home, the Atlantic Coast Conference. During that time, the Fighting Irish have compiled an impressive 504-138 (.785) record, including a sparkling 248-64 (.795) regular season mark in conference play, finishing their 18-year BIG EAST tenure with the second-best winning percentage (232-64, .784) in that league's history.
Also during this near two-decade span, Notre Dame has averaged more than 26 victories per year, with three 35-win seasons, six 30-win campaigns and 11 25-win seasons to its credit. What's more, the Fighting Irish have one NCAA national championship (2001), four NCAA title game appearances (2001, 2011, 2012, 2014), six NCAA Women's Final Four berths (1997, 2001, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014) and 12 Sweet Sixteen showings since the 1995-96 season, which began the program's current run of 19 consecutive NCAA Championship appearances.
The 2013-14 season proved to be one of historic success for McGraw and Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish not only advanced to the NCAA Women's Final Four for the fourth year in a row (and the NCAA national championship game for the third time in the past four seasons), but they also stormed through their inaugural season in the ACC, winning both the conference regular season and tournament championships with a combined 19-0 record, becoming the first league school since 2002-03 to do so (and the first ever to do it in its inaugural ACC season). Notre Dame posted a near-spotless overall 37-1 record (highlighted by a 37-game winning streak to open the season, the longest by any Fighting Irish program in a team-only sport since World War II) and chalked up 14 wins against ranked opponents while setting school records for wins, winning percentage and scoring average (86.1 ppg.), and leading the nation in field goal percentage (.506), the program's first NCAA team statistical title in any category other than won-loss percentage since 2001 (when Notre Dame led the nation in field goal percentage defense, three-point percentage and blocked shots).
Success for McGraw also has meant coaching great players. During her illustrious career, the Notre Dame skipper has coached 16 All-Americans, including 2001 consensus National Player of the Year Ruth Riley and four-time All-American (and two-time consensus first-team All-America choice) Skylar Diggins. McGraw also has worked with 15 players who have been selected for USA or Canada Basketball National Teams, with those players going on to win a total of 27 medals, including 12 golds.
In addition, McGraw has coached 27 players who have earned all-conference recognition a total of 58 times, including 21 first-team picks who have been chosen a total of 35 times, and has helped shape several other national award winners, namely a two-time Nancy Lieberman Award recipient (Diggins), two Frances Pomeroy Naismith award honorees (Niele Ivey in 2001, Megan Duffy in 2006) and two United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year selections (Jacqueline Batteast in 2002 and Jewell Loyd in 2013).
Another sign of McGraw's success has been her ability to prepare her players for the next level. No less than 27 Notre Dame cagers have gone on to play professionally (domestically or overseas), including 14 who either have been drafted or signed as free agents with WNBA teams. The past 14 seasons (2001-14) have seen the greatest influx of Fighting Irish talent into the WNBA, with 12 Notre Dame players having been selected in the league's annual draft during that time, including the school's first three WNBA lottery picks (Devereaux Peters in 2012 to Minnesota; Diggins in 2013 to Tulsa; Kayla McBride in 2014 San Antonio, all with the No. 3 overall choice), making the Fighting Irish just the second program in the 18-year history of the WNBA Draft to produce lottery (top-four) selections in three consecutive seasons.
McGraw's pupils also have thrived in the WNBA, with four winning league titles during their professional careers. Coquese Washington ('92) was the first to hoist the WNBA hardware with the Houston Comets in 2000, followed three years later by Riley with the Detroit Shock. Riley and Batteast then teamed up to help Detroit to its second crown in 2006, with Peters the most recent to join the club in 2013 with the Minnesota Lynx.
Dedicated to helping grow and further the sport in any way possible, McGraw has groomed 12 of her former players and/or assistant coaches who currently are serving on basketball staffs at either the high school or college level. Of those 12 proteges, four presently are Division I head coaches -- Bill Fennelly (Iowa State), Kevin McGuff (Ohio State), Jonathan Tsipis (George Washington) and Washington (Penn State). McGuff and Washington (along with current Fighting Irish associate head coach Carol Owens) comprised McGraw's assistant coaching staff on Notre Dame's 2001 NCAA national championship squad, while McGuff and Owens also were on staff for the Fighting Irish during their run to the 1997 NCAA Final Four (that team also included Ivey and Beth (Morgan) Cunningham, both of whom currently are on McGraw's staff).
A native of West Chester, Pa., McGraw earned her bachelor's degree in sociology from Saint Joseph's University (Pa.) in 1977. Following graduation, she coached for two seasons at Archbishop Carroll High School (50-3 record, including a 28-0 record in 1978-79) in the Philadelphia suburb of Radnor, and two more at her alma mater as an assistant coach under Jim Foster (now the head coach at Chattanooga), bookending a one-year professional playing career with the California Dreams of the now-defunct Women's Basketball League (WBL). In 1982, McGraw was named head coach at Lehigh University, her teams compiling a sharp 88-41 (.683) record during her five-year tenure.
McGraw and her husband, Matt, celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary in 2013 and make their home in Granger, Ind. They are the proud parents of 24-year-old son Murphy, a 2012 Indiana University graduate who now lives in Milwaukee and works in the corporate offices for Kohl's Department Stores.