Notre Dame Coach Muffet McGraw announces retirement

Notre Dame women's basketball Coach Muffet McGraw announced her retirement via a tweet Wednesday afternoon.

ABC57's Allison Hayes will sit down with McGraw this afternoon to discuss her retirement. A press conference is being held at 4:30 p.m.

McGraw tweeted out the following statement announcing her retirement:

“It has been my great honor to represent the University of Notre Dame these past 33 years, but the time has come for me to step down as your head basketball coach,” McGraw stated. “I want to thank Monk Malloy and Father Jenkins for giving me the opportunity to coach the game I love at a university I love. I have learned much about leadership from the many athletic directors with whom I have served, and in particular, I want to thank Jack Swarbrick for his unwavering support.

“I am grateful to have worked with the best assistant coaches in the business, and I have been blessed to coach so many phenomenal women.

“To the best fans in the country, it was my honor and privilege to play for you.”

Niele Ivey will replace McGraw as the university's fourth women's basketball head coach.

McGraw has been with Notre Dame for 33 seasons with a 835-234 record. Her career record is 923-275.

McGraw has led the women's basketball team to 26 NCAA tournament appearances and two National Championships.

She has been inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame, Indiana Hall of Fame and Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

McGraw is from West Chester, Pennsylvania and earned her bachelor's degree in Sociology from Saint Joseph's University in 1977.

While working at an internship one summer in her hometown, she met Matt McGraw, a student at West Chester University

"I had a job, I could work in the courthouse as an internship for the summer. I met with a guy named Bob Kyle, he walked me around to each office and in each office he said 'You need to know these people, these people.' We got to her office and he said, 'There's nobody you need to meet here.' And I said, 'Ah, there is,'" Matt said.

"I was a criminal justice major at St Joe's. I was working for the summer at Juvenile Probation of Chester County at the courthouse. And one day, they brought this guy in who was going to intern in the department. I remember the first look at him, I remember what he was wearing. I just remember thinking 'That's somebody I would definitely like to meet,'" Muffet said.

McGraw began her coaching career at Archbishop Carroll High School and in 1980 became an assistant coach at Saint Joseph's. From 1982-1987, McGraw led the Lehigh University's women's basketball team.

She began her career at Notre Dame in 1987 as the third women's basketball coach at the university.

Since then, she has been named WBCA Coach of the Year, USBWA Coach of the Year, Naismith Coach of the Year and AP Coach of the Year and received the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award in 2017.

Off the court, McGraw is active in many charity organizations in Michiana. In just one example of her giving back, she and several of her players visited Caleb, a patient at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center just before Christmas in 2017.

In October 2018 she painted pinkies for the "Paint your pinkies purple to end polio" event hosted by the Rotary Club of South Bend. If the attendees wanted McGraw to paint their pinkies, they had to donate $25. 

She is also very vocal about gender equality. In April 2019, 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.

“It is inevitable and appropriate that as we mark Muffet's retirement from coaching today, much of the focus will be on the remarkable record of competitive success that makes her a Hall of Fame coach,” James E. Rohr Notre Dame Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick stated. “But my reflections go more to her as an educator, friend, and role model. Every time I had the privilege of stepping into her classroom, be it at practice or courtside during a game, I was struck by how much she cared about her students and how important it was for her to use basketball as a vehicle to help develop future leaders.

“Winning over 900 games and two national championships make Muffet a legendary coach; nurturing “strong confident women who are not afraid to use their voice and take a stand" makes Muffet a teacher who made a difference in the lives of every student-athlete she taught. While we will not have the benefit of Muffet as our coach going forward, we will make certain that through her ongoing work with Notre Dame Athletics we continue to enjoy all that she has to offer as an educator, friend, and role model.”

Some of her previous players told Notre Dame:

“There’s something about her that makes you want to move a mountain for her. I believe it’s how much she cares about her players,” - Skylar Diggins-Smith.

“She pushed me and pulled things out of me I didn’t know I had. What she did for me in those four years, I came in as a girl and left as a woman.” - Kayla McBride

“The relationships and the impact (McGraw and the assistant coaches) had on my life made me want to be able to give that to other people someday,” - Natalie Achonwa

“I’ve learned so much from her. She empowers women and empowers us to use our platforms for good.” - Arike Ogunbowale

“Muffet McGraw is one of the most iconic figures in the landscape of sport, and one of the greatest influences in my life,” Ruth Riley attested. “Muffet is a pioneer, a trailblazer, a fierce competitor, a champion, a leader, and an advocate for women’s empowerment and equality. Her sustained success over decades has etched an incredible legacy in the archives of sport. It has elevated Notre Dame to one of the elite programs in the country, and I will forever be grateful for the privilege to have played for her.

Watch Allison's one-on-one with Muffet McGraw on ABC57 News at 5 and 6.

Click here to view all of our coverage of Coach Muffet McGraw.

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