Former player, assistant Niele Ivey named ND head women's basketball coach

Niele Ivey

NOTRE DAME, Ind. (WNDU) - Former Notre Dame women's basketball star and assistant coach Niele Ivey has been named as the team's new head coach after Muffet McGraw announced her retirement Wednesday.

"Ivey was the common link to all nine of the program’s Final Four appearances, two as a player and seven as an assistant coach, logging a combined 17 years on Notre Dame’s campus. Ivey spent the past season honing her craft as an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies, before returning to follow in Muffet McGraw’s footsteps," the university said in a release.

"I am so honored to be able to follow in the legacy that Coach McGraw built here at Notre Dame," Ivey said. "My love and appreciation for Coach McGraw is beyond anything I can express. She’s more than a mentor, more than a friend, she’s one of the most influential people in my life. I am full of gratitude for Coach McGraw and what she has done for me. She was the first to give me an opportunity to play for Notre Dame and coach here as well. I will forever be grateful for her love and support. I would also like to thank Jack Swarbrick and Father Jenkins for having the faith to move this program forward with me. I can never thank you enough for this incredible opportunity."

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From the University of Notre Dame:

There’s no place like home under the Golden Dome. James E. Rohr Notre Dame Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick announced Niele Ivey (‘01) as the fourth head coach in women’s basketball history on Wednesday.

Ivey was the common link to all nine of the program’s Final Four appearances, two as a player and seven as an assistant coach, logging a combined 17 years on Notre Dame’s campus. Ivey spent the past season honing her craft as an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies, before returning to follow in Muffet McGraw’s footsteps.

Ivey will address Irish fans as the new Karen & Kevin Keyes Family Head Coach for the first time on Thursday, April 23, at Noon ET as part of a virtual press conference.

"I am so honored to be able to follow in the legacy that Coach McGraw built here at Notre Dame,” Ivey stated. “My love and appreciation for Coach McGraw is beyond anything I can express. She’s more than a mentor, more than a friend, she’s one of the most influential people in my life. I am full of gratitude for Coach McGraw and what she has done for me. She was the first to give me an opportunity to play for Notre Dame and coach here as well. I will forever be grateful for her love and support. I would also like to thank Jack Swarbrick and Father Jenkins for having the faith to move this program forward with me. I can never thank you enough for this incredible opportunity."

The Irish went 386-55 (.875) during Ivey’s time patrolling the sidelines as an assistant. Notre Dame’s recent decade of dominance (2010-19) had Ivey’s handprints all over it - no other program had produced more trips to the national title game (six), and the Irish posted the third-most wins in that span, as well (339).

That decade also consisted of 14 conference championships (eight regular-season plus six tournament titles split between the BIG EAST and ACC), seven Final Fours and a 2018 national championship.

“I am thrilled Niele will be the next leader of the Notre Dame basketball program,” Muffet McGraw said. “She’s one of the best young coaches in the game today and her success with the Grizzlies has helped make her even more prepared for her new role.

“What sets Niele apart is her ability to connect with all generations -- alums, her current team and future student-athletes. She will be a fantastic role model and a leader in the women’s empowerment movement, and she will represent Notre Dame in a way that will make our fans proud.”

The inaugural recipient of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Division I National Assistant Coach of the Year Award in 2016, Ivey has thrived in all aspects of the game, including player development, scouting and recruiting.

She tutored the likes of All-Americans Skylar Diggins-Smith, Jewell Loyd, Lindsay Allen and Arike Ogunbowale. Coach McGraw consistently entrusted her with the toughest scouts, earning key victories over squads from UConn, Maryland, Tennessee, Louisville, Baylor, South Carolina and Texas A&M. In addition, Ivey helped Notre Dame attract Top-12 recruiting classes in nine of her last 10 years.

Over Ivey’s last eight years with the Irish, Notre Dame ranked in the Top 12 in field goal percentage, scoring offense and assists. In her most recent season at Notre Dame, the 2019 Irish took home the statistical championship for top scoring offense in the country, averaging a program record 88.6 points per game.

“Father Jenkins and I have every confidence that Niele Ivey is the perfect person to build upon the legacy established by Coach McGraw,” Swarbrick stated. “As a player and as a coach, Niele helped Notre Dame women's basketball perform at a championship level. She understands Notre Dame and what it takes to help young women reach their potential here. We look forward to working closely with her in the years ahead.”

Ivey expanded her basketball prowess when she stepped away from Notre Dame to accept an assistant coaching position with the Memphis Grizzlies for the 2019-20 season. Ivey proved to be a true trailblazer, becoming the ninth active female coach in the NBA.

Over the past year, Ivey helped develop a young team, with a new coaching staff, into a playoff contender. The Grizzlies currently sit as the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference during the league’s COVID-19 suspension. Ivey worked with several different position groups with the Grizzlies, but primarily with standout point guard Ja Morant, a favorite for NBA Rookie of the Year honors.

“I want to express gratitude for the Memphis Grizzlies organization, especially Zach Kleiman and Taylor Jenkins,” Ivey added. “I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be on their staff and to be a part of such an amazing organization. I have had the opportunity to learn and develop from Taylor and I’m so grateful for his amazing leadership and expertise. I developed a family in Memphis and I am so blessed.”

In her playing days, Ivey was an All-American point guard and three-time All-BIG EAST selection, going 109-22 in an Irish uniform and capping her collegiate playing career with a title run in 2001. Ivey went on to play five seasons in the WNBA after her selection by the Indiana Fever in the second round of the 2001 WNBA Draft. She spent four seasons with the Fever, helping them to their first playoff berth in franchise history in 2002.

Ivey joined McGraw’s staff in May of 2007, and the rest was history.

It seems last fall was never a “goodbye;” it was simply a “see you later.” Welcome back, Karen & Kevin Keyes Family Head Coach Niele Ivey.