Elizabeth Greason | April 15, 2017
In 1987, President Ronald Reagan challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. “Full House” debuted. Michael Jackson released his follow-up album to “Thriller.” The New York Giants earned their first Super Bowl rings and Martina Navratilova defeated a young Steffi Graf in the Wimbledon finals.
And a young, inexperienced Muffet McGraw stepped to the helm of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program with fewer than 100 career coaching wins under her belt and a hope — a hope that maybe she would, at some point, be able to turn nothing into a small something.
Thirty years later, McGraw has managed to steer her team through uncharted territory, earning 853 total victories, 24 NCAA tournament bids, 15 Sweet 16 appearances, seven trips to the Final Four and one ever-elusive national title.
And, on April 1, McGraw reached the pinnacle of the sport. A spot alongside the all-time greats — male and female, professional and collegiate, players and coaches. A place in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
McGraw’s legacy is undeniable whether inside Purcell Pavilion, on the Notre Dame campus or across the nation. Home crowds, 9,000 strong, all decked out in lime green, rise to their feet, clapping and cheering not just for her players but for the woman behind them and the program she has built.