Blue and Gold Illustrated

June-July 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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14 JUNE/JULY 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI I t was a bittersweet moment last Aug. 5 when Niele Ivey, the point guard for Muffet Mc- Graw's first national champion- ship team in 2001 and a treasured assistant since 2007, took a position with the coaching staff of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. On one hand, McGraw encouraged Ivey to become one of six women with such a position in the NBA, even though it was painful to say good-bye. On the other side of it, the wheels were already in motion for a poten- tial succession plan. "Hopefully, one day she can take all that she's learned and bring it back to our program," McGraw said a little more than a week after Ivey's departure. Nine months later and following a legendary 33-year stay, the keys were handed over from McGraw to Ivey. McGraw announced her retirement from basketball coaching April 22. Minutes later, Notre Dame revealed Ivey would be the successor. It was one of the smoother, quickest and non-controversial coaching transi- tions in the athletics department's history. There were two aspects to Mc- Graw's decision that made it "the right time." One is that after this past year 's 13-18 finish under McGraw, Ivey will not be saddled with immense expec- tations right out of the chute. Two, McGraw discovered in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that she can be quite content without coaching — a sign that it might be a good time to leave the game. KNOWING WHEN TO GET OUT Deep down, McGraw sensed maybe it would have been best to bid adieu after the 2018-19 campaign with the five starters drafted among the first 19 picks in the WNBA Draft. "But when I looked ahead to what we had coming back, I knew that it was going to be a challenging season, and I thought, 'Where is the honor in that if I leave now?'" she said. "I re- ally wasn't ready anyway, so I put in for one more year." The year became even more taxing than anticipated with myriad health setbacks among several players that helped result in the 13-18 finish, In 33 seasons at Notre Dame, McGraw won 848 games, advanced to nine Final Fours and won two national titles (2001 and 2018) en route to getting enshrined into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. PHOTO COURTESY FIGHTING IRISH MEDIA RETIREMENT BENEFIT Muffet McGraw steps down, Niele Ivey 'comes home' as successor

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