Notre Dame WBB: Legendary coach Muffet McGraw passes the torch

Last week, Notre Dame’s legendary women’s basketball head coach Muffet McGraw announced that she would be retiring from the position.

Last week, Irish fans and the rest of the college basketball world learned that a living legend was walking away from the game. Muffet McGraw announced that she would be stepping down from her role as the head coach of the Notre Dame women’s basketball team.

The resume of Muffet McGraw stacks up against some of the best coaches across all sports.

33 seasons as a head coach. 936 career wins. 24 straight NCAA Tournament appearances. 67 NCAA Tournament wins. Nine trips to the Final Four. Two national championships. A place in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

And those are just her on-court achievements.

Some would argue that what McGraw has done off the court is just as impressive. She is a strong vocal advocate for gender equality and has helped foster the growth of hundreds of young women.

On Wednesday, April 22nd, Muffet McGraw announced that she would be stepping down as head coach of the Notre Dame women’s basketball team.

This is undoubtedly a massive loss for the women’s basketball team and the university as a whole. The timing of McGraw’s decision has made it a bit tougher for Irish fans to accept. In the season following their appearance in the National Championship Game, the Irish went 13-18 and were a long long way from earning a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

It was certainly a rebuilding year for the team, but they have some talented young players on the roster and a highly-rated 2020 recruiting class.

With last season being cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic, Muffet McGraw and her staff had plenty of time to take a step back and evaluate the current state of the program.

I’m not sure if this time off ultimately lead to her decision to step down from her role as head coach, but I think it may have played a small factor. After 33 seasons as a head coach, I think McGraw knew she was close to transitioning to the next chapter of her career.

While most fans would want a legendary coach like Muffet McGraw to retire on the heels of a National Championship, I think the timing of this decision is selfless and puts her successor in the best position to succeed.

Who will be her successor? That is a question that Irish fans did not have to ponder for long. Mere minutes after the news of Muffet stepping down was announced, the university announced that former player and assistant coach, Niele Ivey, would be the next head coach of the Notre Dame women’s basketball team.

Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick later revealed that choosing Niele Ivey as the successor to Muffet McGraw was a decision that was made almost two years ago.

Ivey’s resume may not measure up to McGraw’s, but you can see that she is on a similar path and has the potential to be the next great head coach at Notre Dame.

Ivey became an assistant coach for Muffet McGraw in 2007 and was promoted to associate head coach in 2016. This past season, she worked as an assistant coach for the Memphis Grizzlies – making her a part of history as one of the 13 women to ever be a part of an NBA coaching staff.

Next: Notre Dame football: The stolen 1993 National Championship

Fans will probably (unfairly) compare Ivey to McGraw in the coming seasons. While those are impossibly big shoes to fill, I think that Ivey is up to the challenge.

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