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Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw. (Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw. (Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)

Time Out

Notre Dame women’s basketball coach explains why she’s no longer hiring men

By WITW Staff on April 5, 2019

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw is tired of the lack of women coaching women’s basketball — and the lack of women in leadership roles in all facets of life. So when a reporter asked her about her recent announcement that she would no longer hire men on her coaching staff, McGraw took the opportunity to explain in a bracingly honest speech about gendered power.

“Men run the world. Men have the power. Men make the decisions. It’s always the man that is the stronger one,” said McGraw. “When these girls are coming out, who are they looking up to to tell them that’s not the way it has to be? Where better to do that than in sports? All these millions of girls that play sports across the country, we’re teaching them great things about life skills, but wouldn’t it be great if we could teach them to watch how women lead?”

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972 forced colleges to provide their women’s sports teams with funding commensurate to what men’s teams get, the number of women coaches has decreased drastically. In 1972, more than 90 percent of women’s college teams across two dozen sports were coached by women. Today, that figure has dropped to about 40 percent, according to the New York Times. In women’s basketball, the highest-profile women’s collegiate sport, 59 percent of coaches are women compared to 79 percent in 1977.

“When you look at men’s basketball, 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?” asked McGraw. “Maybe it’s because we only have 10 percent women athletic directors in Division I. People hire people who look like them. That’s the problem.”

Lack of female leadership, she added, negatively impacts life outside of sports as well.

“I’m getting tired of the novelty of the first female governor of this state, the first female African-American mayor of this city,” she said. “When is it going to become the norm instead of the exception? We don’t have enough female role models. We don’t have enough visible women leaders. We don’t have enough women in power.”

The Notre Dame women’s basketball teams will play a national semifinal against UConn on Friday night. UConn is coached by a man, Geno Auriemma, a longtime advocate for women’s leadership in the sport. Nevertheless, Auriemma has vocally opposed blocking men from coaching.

“I hope she sends a thank you to all those guys that used to be on her staff that got her all those good players that won a championship,” he responded to McGraw.

Read the full story at the New York Times.

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