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Muffet McGraw makes national headlines with Final Four comments on gender equity

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TAMPA, Fla. - Notre Dame women's basketball is hard at work in Tampa for the Final Four.

Before the Irish meet UConn on Friday night, the Irish met with media before Thursday practice. That's when head coach Muffet McGraw made national waves.

Asked about her recent comments on hiring an all-female staff, McGraw answered with a long, impassioned statement about gender roles and expectations in America. Her comments reached a national audience on television and social media, met largely with praise but also some criticism.

See her full comments below (and view the video at the bottom of the story)

Q. I know you made some comments about hiring practices, what you would do in the future. How important -- as your career has gone on, losing Pat Summitt, how seriously do you taking being that voice?

McGRAW: "Did you know that the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in 1967 and it still hasn't passed? We need 38 states to agree that discrimination on the basis of sex is unconstitutional. We've had a record number of women running for office and winning, and still we have 23% of the House and 25% of the Senate.

I'm getting tired of the novelty of the first female governor of this state, the first female African American mayor of this city. When is it going to become the norm instead of the exception? How are these young women looking up and seeing someone that looks like them, preparing them for the future? We don't have enough female role models. We don't have enough visible women leaders. We don't have enough women in power.

Girls are socialized to know when they come out, gender rules are already set. Men run the world. Men have the power. Men make the decisions. It's always the man that is the stronger one.

When these girls are coming out, who are they looking up to to tell them that's not the way it has to be. Where better to do that than in sports? All these millions of girls that play sports across the country, we're teaching them great things about life skills, but wouldn't it be great if we could teach them to watch how women lead? This is a path for you to take to get to the point where in this country we have 50% of women in power, we have right now less than 5% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies.

When you look at men's basketball, 99% of the jobs go to men, why shouldn't 100 or 99% of the jobs in women's basketball go to women? Maybe it's because we only have 10% women athletic directors in Division I. People hire people who look like them. That's the problem."

(Later in press conference)

Q. We've heard you up on the podium for many years now, you've been to a million of these. I'm curious as to why now? What is it about now that has made you come forth and be as strong about this as you are?

McGRAW: "Enough. I think women across the country in the last few years have just said enough. Time's up. Time's up. It is our turn. If it's going to happen, we have to do something about it. You see women marching in record numbers across the country. Women are coming out and being more active politically.

I've never watched CNN as much in the past two years as I am now. We have the Equal Pay Act. Women are making 77 cents on the dollar. That's just white women. Women of color are lagging way further behind. I'm not talking about white women being coaches. We need more diversity in our game, as well."

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Notre Dame and UConn meet in the second national semifinal game on Friday. Baylor-Oregon tips off shortly after 6 p.m. and then ND-UConn will tip around 9:30.

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