By Curt Rallo
7:00 pm, July 02, 2012
Irish Sports Report
A national championship in 2001.
Back-to-back appearances in the national championship game in 2011 and 2012.
A Final Four appearance in 1997.
Notre Dame administrators, recognizing the golden resume crafted by women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw, rewarded her on with a 10-year contract extension.
McGraw's deal puts her in charge of the Irish through the 2021-22 season. The extension is believed to be one of the longest contract agreements in NCAA women's basketball history. It was announced by Notre Dame vice president and director of athletics Jack Swarbrick, who recently gave Irish men's basketball coach a new 10-year deal.
“I'm thrilled to be able to continue to represent Notre Dame,” said McGraw, who is 679-256 (.726) in 30 seasons overall, including 591-215 (.733) in 25 seasons with the Irish. “It's an amazing honor to work for the best university in the country. I couldn't be happier with where our program is right now and what we've accomplished.”
Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, said in the statement that he was pleased that McGraw would continue to represent Notre Dame.
“For more than 25 years, Muffet has led our women's basketball program and represented this University with distinction,” Jenkins said. “Her teams have excelled on the court and in the classroom, and I am absolutely delighted that she will continue to lead the Irish for many more years.”
Swarbrick hailed McGraw as one of the nation's top coaches.
“We are thrilled to be able to enter into a decade-long agreement with Muffet, who is not only the face of Notre Dame women's basketball, but increasingly, the face of women's basketball, given all that she's accomplished,” Swarbrick said. “She's taken this program to a place where it's annually in the conversation for the national championship, which is the model all coaches want to follow.
“Off the court, she has created a program that has a lasting community identification and a special connection between the University and the city of South Bend, which is one of those unique points of intersection that universities have to be careful to build and maintain, and she's done that for us in a really remarkable way.”
Notre Dame did not release the details of McGraw's contract. According to federal tax documents released in May, McGraw earned $731,626 from the university and another $232,500 from Notre Dame Sports Properties in 2011.
In comparison, Maryland head coach Brenda Frese, who won a national title in 2006, earned $957,522.63 from the university alone in 2011.
McGraw said that there have been offers from other schools over the years — her named was mentioned for the Texas job earlier this season — but that she never saw herself anywhere other than Notre Dame.
“Notre Dame has always felt like home,” she said. “From the moment we stepped on campus, Matt (McGraw's husband) and I felt like we were at home. I continue to appreciate what Notre Dame means to us. I've never seriously considered anywhere else. There have been overtures made, but I could never imagine myself anywhere else. There isn't a better job than this anywhere in the country.”
McGraw, who was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame last summer, is eighth among active Division I women's basketball coaches for career victories, and 14th all-time.
“I think the continuity with the staff definitely helps the program,” McGraw said of the 10-year deal. “It helps the image of the program. Recruits can look and say, 'I know you're going to be there.' That's always a big plus.”
Notre Dame is ranked in the preseason top 10 for next season, and already has two top-10 recruiting classes for the next two seasons. The Irish won their first outright Big East Conference regular-season crown this season, and have beaten perennial national power Connecticut in four of their last five meetings.
“I think success breeds success,” McGraw said. “When you have a team that's fun to watch, people notice. When people watch our team, they see an uptempo offense and a tenacious defense. They see how much fun we're having. That helps recruiting.”
One topic in the contract talks was the construction of a basketball practice facility.
“Our goal is to have a practice facility in four years,” McGraw said. “Everybody has one now. We probably had the first-ever practice facility in the nation, because we always had The Pit and the arena, two great places to practice for the men's and women's teams.
“Now, everybody has the bigger, better facilities. It's time we joined the rest of the country. Just about everybody has one, and certainly the teams in the top 25 have a state-of-the-art facility. We're lagging behind in that area.”
McGraw said that she considers herself fortunate to continue at Notre Dame.
“I've been so blessed to work with some incredibly talented people, both in terms of the student-athletes that have come through Notre Dame, and the coaches and staff who have been part of our success through the years,” she said. “We also have a tremendous administration, and I'm grateful to both Jack and Father Jenkins for their support, as well as the support of our amazing fans, who are absolutely the best in the country.”