After 33 years at Notre Dame, Muffet McGraw has called it quits.
McGraw unexpectedly resigned Wednesday as Notre Dame’s women’s basketball coach, putting an end to her illustrious
career, which included two national championships.
But why now?
McGraw, 64, didn’t initially consider the 2019-20 season, Notre Dame’s worst during her tenure, as her last. But during the last several weeks in quarantine, McGraw has used the downtime to reflect.
She thought about her Hall of Fame coaching career and how she has been provided with a platform as an advocate for gender equality. But she also looked beyond that and asked herself about what life would look like after basketball.
Her answer? “I thought it looked really good,” she said with a smile.
McGraw, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017, is one of five Division I men’s or women’s basketball coaches with at least 930 victories, nine Final Fours and multiple titles, which she won in 2001 and 2018. She was the coach at Lehigh before coming to Notre Dame.
“I am proud of what we have accomplished, and I can turn the page to the next chapter in my life with no regrets, knowing that I gave it my best every day,” McGraw said.
Former Irish player and longtime assistant coach Niele Ivey, who served as an assistant with the Grizzlies this season, will take over for McGraw. She’ll welcome a top-notch recruiting class and try to help the Irish, who finished 13-18, bounce back from a rare down season.
“My love and appreciation for coach McGraw is beyond anything I can express,” Ivey said in a statement. “She’s more than a mentor, more than a friend. She’s one of the most influential people in my life. I am full of gratitude for coach McGraw and what she has done for me.”
Ivey is one of 20 players McGraw sent to the WNBA. McGraw also helped Skylar Diggins-Smith, Kayla McBride and Arike Ogunbowale make the jump to the next level.
“There’s something about her that makes you want to move a mountain for her,’’ Diggins-Smith told the AP. ‘‘I believe it’s how much she cares about her players.”
McGraw is hoping her next chapter is as thrilling and fulfilling as her previous one. Though she’s stepping away from the court, McGraw plans to remain active in the university and local communities as well as being a voice for women’s equality.
“I’m happy with where I’ve left things,” McGraw said. “When I look back at my career, I’m going to have no regrets, and I think that’s important. You hate to lose, you hate to end on a bad note — maybe the season should’ve ended on the game before [the last one] — but [her husband] Matt and I talked that we’re just going to pretend 2018 was our last year.’’
AP contributed to this report.