1. Sports

Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw speaks out for women’s equality

The coach, in town for the Final Four, says, “We don’t have enough female role models, we don’t have enough visible women leaders, we don’t have enough women in power.”
Notre Dame's women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw talks to reporters during the 2019 NCAA Women's Final Four press conference at the Amalie Arena on Thursday, April 4, 2019. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
Notre Dame's women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw talks to reporters during the 2019 NCAA Women's Final Four press conference at the Amalie Arena on Thursday, April 4, 2019. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
Published Apr. 4, 2019
Updated Apr. 5, 2019

TAMPA ― Longtime Notre Dame women’s coach Muffet McGraw, who recently publicly vowed never to hire another male coach, used a national platform ― Thursday’s Women’s Final Four news conference ― to passionately advocate women’s equality.

Here’s what she said, when asked how seriously she takes being a prominent voice in the women’s game now that former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt is gone:

"Did you know that the Equal Rights Amendment was issued in 1967 and still hasn’t passed? We need 38 states to agree that discrimination on the basis of sex is unconstitutional. We’ve had a record number of women running for office and winning, and still we have 23 percent of the House and 25 percent of the Senate. I’m getting tired of the novelty of the first female governor of this state, the first female African-American mayor of this city. When is it gonna become the norm instead of the exception?

"How are these young women looking up and seeing someone that looks like them, preparing them for the future? We don’t have enough female role models, we don’t have enough visible women leaders, we don’t have enough women in power. Girls are socialized to know when they come out, gender roles are already set.

"Men run the world, men have the power, men make the decisions. It’s always the men that is the stronger one. And when these girls are coming up, who are they looking up to to tell them that that’s not the way it has to be? And where better to do that than sports? All these millions of girls who play sports across the country, they could come out every day, and we’re teaching them some great things about life skills.

"But wouldn’t it be great if we could teach them to watch how women lead. This is the path for you to take, to get to the point where in this country, we have 50 percent of women in power. We have right now, less than 5% of women are CEOs in Fortune 500 companies.

“So yes, when you look at men’s basketball and 99 percent of the jobs go to men, why shouldn’t 100 or 99 percent of the jobs in women’s basketball go to women? Maybe it’s because we only have 10 percent women athletic directors in Division I. People hire people who look like them, and that’s the problem.”

As a follow-up, McGraw was asked why she recently has come out so strongly on this issue:

“Enough. I think women across the country in the last few years have just said, ‘Enough. Time’s up. Time is up, it is our turn.’ If it’s gonna happen, we’ve got to do something about it. You’ve seen women marching in record numbers across the country.

"Women are coming out and being more active politically. I’ve never watched CNN as much in the past two years as I have now, and you’re constantly seeing...women are making 77 cents on the dollar, and that’s just white women. Women of color are lagging way farther behind. And I’m not just talking about white women being coaches, we need more diversity in our game as well.”

Later Thursday, Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma, a longtime McGraw rival whose club faces Notre Dame in Friday’s national semifinals, was asked if he respects McGraw’s voice on the issue.

“Sure I do,” said Auriemma, who never has had a full-time men’s assistant.

“I think anybody that speaks out in favor of advancing a segment of the community that could benefit from our voice, absolutely. ... There’s a lot of people out there advancing the game, advancing women, and I’m all in favor of it. Any which way we can, no matter what.”

Auriemma went on to say he believes equality can be achieved “without the expense of another.”

“So what are we saying, that at Oregon they weren’t trying to advance women’s basketball for women by hiring Kelly?” Auriemma said in reference to Kelly Graves, a 56-year-old male who has the Ducks in this weekend’s Final Four. “So that was a bad move, they should’ve just found the best available woman?

"I just think they should hire good coaches. And if your preference is only to hire women, that’s fine. If your preference is to have an all-male staff, that’s fine.”

Contact Joey Knight at Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.


  1. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash and new Japanese slugger Yoshi Tsutsugo, shown during December press conference, will have a lot to talk about during spring training. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    Rays Tales | Learning where Yoshi Tsutsugo and other newcomers best fit will be a priority in Port Charlotte.
  2. With pitching coach Kyle Snyder keeping a close eye on him at Tropicana Field on Friday, Rays prospect Brent Honeywell continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery in 2018 and a fractured arm in 2019. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    John Romano | Once Tampa Bay’s top pitching prospect, Brent Honeywell has had elbow surgeries in successive seasons. Healthy again, he hopes to be in the majors this summer.
  3. USF coach Brian Gregory's team (8-11, 1-5 American Athletic Conference) is on a four-game skid entering Sunday afternoon's contest at No. 25 Houston. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    In a conference teeming with parity, the notion of USF reaching the NCAA Tournament isn’t far-fetched.
  4. Colin Kaepernick, middle, kneels for the national anthem. He hasn't taken a snap in the NFL for three full seasons now.
    "Inspire Change'' campaign is a sanitized version of what Colin Kaepernick tried to get across by kneeling for the national anthem.
  5. Tampa Catholic's Kobe Knox dunks for two  of his 12 points in a 68-64 victory over Berkeley Prep on Friday night. [SCOTT PURKS  |  Special to the Times]
    The Crusaders don’t lead until the fourth quarter, but edge the Bucs 68-64.
  6. NHL All-Star Game, college basketball and more sports on the air.
  7. New USF offensive coordinator Glenn Spencer addresses players during the Bulls' first team meeting of 2020. [Joey Knight]
    The coaches each get a $10,000 bonus for a regular-season win against UCF.
  8. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) runs on the sideline in the second half of an NFL football game against Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. [ADAM HUNGER  |  AP]
    Manning: “From the very first moment I did it my way.”
  9. NFC cornerback Shaquill Griffin of the Seattle Seahawks gives a thumbs up during Pro Bowl NFL football practice, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Luciano) [STEVE LUCIANO  |  AP]
    Third-year Seahawks cornerback is being rewarded for his standout season, and is excited to share it with his family. “We all made the Pro Bowl.”
  10. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow prepares to warm up on the field during a player workout at Tropicana Field on Friday. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Discipline for sign-stealing scheme was lax, Rays pitchers say, as participating hitters should have been disciplined as well.