July 2, 2008
Notre Dame, Ind. - University of Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has signed a two-year contract extension that will keep her firmly at the helm of the Fighting Irish women's basketball program through the 2014-15 season.
McGraw, who will begin her 22nd season with the Irish in 2008-09, signed a two-year extension in the fall of 2004 that took her through 2010-11, then signed another two-year extension in May 2007 that stretched the agreement through 2012-13. Her 21 seasons at Notre Dame have been highlighted by 18 20-win campaigns (including 14 in the past 15 seasons), 15 NCAA tournament appearances (including a current streak of 13 straight), two NCAA Final Fours and the 2001 NCAA national championship. Entering the 2008-09 season, she has a 474-188 (.716) record at Notre Dame, and a career record of 562-229 (.710) in 26 seasons, ranking her among the 20 winningest coaches in NCAA Division I history (in terms of career victories and all-time winning percentage).
"For more than 20 years, Muffet has led our program with integrity and passion, and, of course, to much success," said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame's president. "As we look forward to many more years together, I am confident that the excellence she has achieved on and off the court will continue."
In 2007-08, McGraw led Notre Dame back to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in program history. The Irish posted a 25-9 record (including an 11-5 mark in the BIG EAST Conference, where they finished fourth) and were ranked among the top 20 teams in the country by both major national polls for the final 17 weeks of the season, finishing 13th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll and 15th in the Associated Press poll (the latter survey was taken before the NCAA Tournament). At year's end, Notre Dame also ranked among the top 25 in six NCAA statistical categories, including scoring offense (8th at 76.2 points per game) and scoring margin (10th at plus-14.6 points per game).
"I'm immensely proud and grateful to continue representing the University of Notre Dame and this wonderful basketball program," McGraw said. "The support we have received from the University community and our administration, especially (University president) Father (John) Jenkins and (former athletic director) Kevin White, continually reminds me of why I consider my role as head coach at Notre Dame to be truly the greatest job I could ever ask for. This is such an exciting time for our program -- I know we're on the brink of even greater things in the future, and I'm incredibly motivated to get on the court with our team again in the fall."
McGraw has a well-deserved reputation as one of the nation's premier big-game coaches and tacticians, piloting Notre Dame to 55 victories over nationally-ranked opponents, including 45 in the past decade alone. She has been especially sharp in the postseason, overseeing the program's landmark NCAA Tournament wins over top-four seeds Texas (1997), Alabama (1997), Texas Tech (1998), Kansas State (2003) and Oklahoma (2008), as well as a near-toppling of No. 1 seed North Carolina in 2007.
Under McGraw's guidance, the past 13 years have been the most successful in Notre Dame's history. The Irish have compiled an impressive 315-108 (.745) record, including a sparkling 166-50 (.769) regular-season mark in BIG EAST play, the second-best winning percentage in league history. Notre Dame also has averaged more than 24 victories per year during that span, with two 30-win seasons and six 25-win campaigns to its credit. The Irish have won at least one NCAA Tournament game 12 times in that 13-year span, advancing to the Sweet 16 seven times (1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2008) and the Final Four twice (1997 and 2001).
The 2001 season marked the pinnacle of McGraw's coaching career to date, as she led Notre Dame to its first NCAA national championship with a 68-66 win over Purdue at the Savvis Center in St. Louis. The victory capped off a record-setting 34-2 season that saw the Irish soar to the No. 1 spot in the polls, win a share of their first BIG EAST regular-season title and then become the first NCAA champion to erase double-figure deficits in both Final Four contests en route to the title.
For her efforts, McGraw earned national coach-of-the-year honors from the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, Sports Illustrated for Women and the Associated Press, as well as the Atlanta Tipoff Club, which named her the Naismith Women's College Coach of the Year and the New York Athletic Club, which presented her with the Winged Foot Award. She also was tapped as the '01 BIG EAST Coach of the Year, the fourth time (in the fourth different conference) that she has received that award.
Success for McGraw also has meant coaching great players. During her illustrious career, the Notre Dame skipper has coached nine All-Americans, including 2001 consensus National Player of the Year Ruth Riley. She also has worked with five players who have been selected for USA Basketball National Teams, with those players going on to win a total of nine medals (led by Riley's gold with the '04 U.S. Olympic Team). In addition, McGraw has coached 21 players who have earned all-conference recognition a total of 43 times, including 14 first-team picks who have been chosen a total of 25 times, and has helped shape several other national award winners, namely two Frances Pomeroy Naismith award recipients (Niele Ivey in 2001, Megan Duffy in 2006) and 2002 United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year Jacqueline Batteast.
Another sign of McGraw's success has been her ability to prepare her players for the next level. No less than 14 Notre Dame cagers have gone on to play professionally (domestically or overseas), including nine who either have been drafted or signed as free agents with WNBA teams. The past eight years have seen the greatest influx of Irish talent into the WNBA, with seven Notre Dame players having been selected in the league's annual draft since 2001. Four of those players -- Riley, Ivey, Kelley Siemon and Ericka Haney -- were starters on the `01 Irish NCAA championship team, and five of the recent Irish WNBA draftees (Riley, Ivey, Batteast, Duffy and Charel Allen) earned All-America status during their careers at Notre Dame.
Riley has enjoyed perhaps the most success in the WNBA of any Irish women's basketball player. She won two league titles with the Detroit Shock (2003, 2006) and was the WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player in 2003, becoming the first player in women's basketball history to earn Finals MVP honors at the NCAA and WNBA levels. Riley also is one of seven women's basketball players ever to win a championship in NCAA, WNBA and Olympic competition. In February 2007, Riley was traded to the WNBA's San Antonio Silver Stars, whom she led to the league's Western Conference finals last season, and she is one of three Irish women's basketball alums currently on WNBA rosters -- Duffy is in New York and Allen is in Sacramento.
McGraw's teams also have been stellar in the classroom. Since McGraw came to Notre Dame in 1987, every women's basketball player who completed her athletic eligibility at the University has graduated (a perfect 57-of-57 success rate). Additionally, two Irish players -- Riley and Duffy -- have been named ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA first-team Academic All-Americans, with Riley twice earning that honor and going on to be named the 2001 Academic All-America Team Member of the Year.
Dedicated to help grow and further the sport in any way possible, McGraw has helped groom 12 of her former players and/or assistant coaches who currently are serving as coaches at either the high school or college level. In addition, seven of her former assistants are presently Division I head coaches -- 1988 Notre Dame graduate Sandy Botham (Wisconsin-Milwaukee), 1997 Notre Dame graduate and the school's all-time leading scorer Beth (Morgan) Cunningham (Virginia Commonwealth), Bill Fennelly (Iowa State), Kevin McGuff (Xavier), Carol Owens (Northern Illinois), 1991 Notre Dame graduate Coquese Washington (Penn State) and most recently, 1994 Notre Dame graduate Kristin (Knapp) Cole (New Hampshire). McGuff, Owens and Washington comprised McGraw's assistant coaching staff on the 2001 Irish NCAA national championship squad, while McGuff and Owens also were on staff for Notre Dame's run to the 1997 NCAA Final Four.
McGraw received her bachelor's degree in sociology from Saint Joseph's University (Pa.) in 1977. Following graduation, she coached for two seasons at Philadelphia's Archbishop Carroll High School where she guided her teams to a 50-3 record. McGraw then played point guard for one year with the California Dreams, a team in the since-folded Women's Professional Basketball League (WBL). She returned to her alma mater in 1980, serving as an assistant coach under Jim Foster (now the head coach at Ohio State). Two years later, McGraw was named head coach at Lehigh University, her teams finishing 88-41 (.683) during her five-year tenure.
Born Dec. 5, 1955 in Pottsville, Pa., and raised in nearby West Chester, McGraw remains one of the predominant women's basketball figures ever to come from the Philadelphia metro area. In 1986, she was inducted into the SJU Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, followed by her enshrinement into the Philadelphia Big Five Women's Hall of Fame in 1989. In November 2002, McGraw's alma mater came calling once again, inducting her into the SJU Athletics Hall of Fame. McGraw also was named an honorary alumna by the Notre Dame Alumni Association in 1997 and received an honorary monogram from the Notre Dame Monogram Club.
McGraw and her husband, Matt, will celebrate their 31st anniversary later this year and make their home in Granger, Ind. They are the proud parents of 18-year-old son Murphy, who graduated from South Bend's St. Joseph's High School earlier this year and will enroll at Indiana University in the fall.