On April 22, the women’s basketball and really the sports world was put into shock when Muffet McGraw unexpectedly stepped down as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach. However, just 15 minutes after ND Athletics made the announcement, they announced that McGraw protege and Irish legend Niele Ivey would be named the head coach to replace Muffet. Ivey played and then coached for Muffet McGraw, playing a big role in both of the program’s national championships. Niele was a player in 2001 and was a coach in 2018 for the team’s championships. Now that a month has passed, Ivey and NDWBB have named their coaching staff going forward.
NDWBB Coaching Staff Updates
On May 18, there was another coaching change that was also a bit unexpected. Beth Cunningham, 8-year assistant coach to Muffet McGraw, stepped down from her position, too. There did not seem to be any ill-will, but Cunningham is “pursuing other coaching opportunities,” according to Josh Bates, team spokesperson. Cunningham seemed to be a great addition to the coaching staff under Muffet, but there was a mutual parting of ways it seems.
Then, 9 days later, the team announced Cunningham’s replacement and simultaneously her whole coaching staff. Niele Ivey’s staff consists of Associate Head Coach Coquese Washington, Associate Head Coach Carol Owens, and Assistant Coach Michaela Mabrey. Washington is actually coming back to the program as a coach, being an assistant coach for Muffet McGraw from 1999-2007. Washington also played for Muffet from 1989-1993, helping start a strong foundation with the team and getting them to their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 1992. Washington was a strong mentor to Niele Ivey as well as being a true friend to the program. Washington came back to ND from being the head coach at Penn State from 2007-2019.
Carol Owens has been on the bench as a coach for the program now for a total of 20 years and counting, involving herself in all 9 of the program’s Final Four appearances. She was a true asset to Muffet McGraw, and Ivey is retaining her. Ivey is also retaining Michaela Mabrey, who played for the Irish from 2012-2016. Mabrey was hired before the 2019-20 season to fill the spot on the bench that Ivey actually left when she took her position as an assistant coach for the Memphis Grizzlies. She is a young coaching talent that will help with the cohesiveness of the program as we enter into this new era of Notre Dame Women’s Basketball.
One of Muffet McGraw’s many legacies was and still is advocating for women in sports. Last year, she mentioned how proud she was to have a coaching staff comprised of all women leading her program. Niele Ivey is carrying on that legacy and tradition with her staff comprising of all women. Ivey truly wanted to put her own spin on following the legend that is Muffet McGraw, and she is taking that to new heights and a next level here as she shepherds in her new era as head coach.
In Other Niele Ivey Being a Boss News
Just 5 days after being named the new head basketball coach, Niele Ivey landed two amazingly solid recruits for the 2021 class. At the end of last month, two five-star recruits committed to Notre Dame. Olivia Miles, the second-highest rated recruit for 2021 and the highest-rated point guard committed as well as Sonia Citron, another five-star point guard and defending Gatorade Player of the Year in New York committed. It was a true red-letter day for the program and for Niele Ivey to begin cementing herself as someone who will be a great continuation of the dominance and legacy that Muffet McGraw left.