Muffet McGraw on women’s basketball: ‘We need more women in charge’

Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Muffet McGraw opens up about her ongoing fight for gender equity in women’s basketball on the latest episode of NETLIFE with host Dawn Staley.

The former Notre Dame coach drew widespread attention in 2019 when she said she wouldn’t hire another man to her coaching staff. Her stance hasn’t changed on the issue.

“I really believe that for these young women that we’re coaching, they have to be able to look up and see somebody that looks like them,” McGraw tells Staley. “They have to see women in power positions, in leadership positions because that is showing them that they can do it, too.”

While there has been a heightened focus on women coaches breaking barriers in the men’s game, McGraw’s focus remains on women’s basketball.

“Why do people look at it as if going to the WNBA is a step down? That’s our game, that should be the pinnacle of our game,” McGraw says. “I would love to see a lot of those assistants in the NBA come over and be head coaches on the women’s side.”

Becky Hammon, a longtime assistant on Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs staff, recently returned to the WNBA, where she played for 16 seasons, as the new head coach of the Las Vegas Aces.

“We need more women in charge,” McGraw says.

Inequality in collegiate sports has been a heavily debated topic since Oregon’s Sedona Prince posted a video to social media showing the disparities between the weight rooms at the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments last year. The uproar over the viral video led to a reckoning within the NCAA and several reformative measures, including a gender equity report and the implementation of March Madness branding at the women’s tournament.

“The NCAA says it’s problematic because nobody is in charge of looking at the men’s and women’s tournament and saying, ‘Wait a minute, there is something wrong here,'” McGraw says. “They didn’t even notice.”

The Hall of Fame coach implores those involved in women’s sports to continue addressing inequities head on and bringing attention to ignored issues.

“We had to speak out, and since we started to speak out, things are starting to change,” she says. “You have to have those uncomfortable conversations if we want to change our game, if we want to grow our game. We have to point out the inequities in everything, across the board.”

Listen to the full conversation between McGraw and Staley on the coaching pipeline, the NCAA and growing the game on NETLIFE.