NOTRE DAME, Ind. (WNDU) - For the first time in 33 years, there will be a new head coach for Notre Dame Women's Basketball.
After spending a season away making history in the NBA as an assistant coach for the Memphis Grizzlies, Niele Ivey has returned home.
"It is an absolute dream," Ivey said. "A dream come true. It means everything to me. Notre Dame has done so much for me. It is amazing to say that I can give back to the University that has given me so much. It's an honor. It's a privilege. I'm not ever going to take it for granted."
The move brings Ivey closer to her son, Jaden, who will be attending Purdue in the fall.
"Most importantly to my rock, my inspiration, sitting right next to me, Jaden, you are my why," Ivey said. "You're the reason I am who I am. The strength I need to wake up and my passion is because of you. You're my inspiration, my motivation and I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for you and the sacrifices that you made to allow me to live out my dreams. I will always love you for it. I thank you. I can't wait to see what is in store for you. "
Jaden Ivey is so proud of his mom.
"We were talking about it for a minute since she was an assistant coach at Notre Dame," Jaden Ivey said. "I'm super proud of her and her growth. Her work ethic is amazing. I feel like that's not really talked about her. But she works so hard. I've known that since I was a little kid just watching her on late nights just watching film until 3 a.m. I just think it gets unnoticed. I feel like my mom she's just an amazing person. I'm going to be by her side forever. I love her very much. I hope she sees this. She will see it but, you know, I just love her so very much. I'm just so proud of her."
Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbick said no one else was considered for the job.
Ivey understands the significance of her position and wants to continue making Coach Muffet McGraw proud.
"Wow it speaks volumes," Ivey said. "It speaks volumes of the confidence that she has in me. Coach McGraw is a woman of great integrity. She's a woman that loves to empower women. She knows the importance for women to be in these types of leadership roles. She talked about it all the time. The fact that she helped create this position for me to be her successor and pretty much hand pick me that just shows you who she is as a person. I'm just so blessed to be able to follow her legacy. I hope I can always honor her legacy. I can't be her. I just want to make her proud."
On Wednesday, it was announced during a Zoom call with alums and current players that Ivey would be the next head coach.
"The alums were probably the most ecstatic," Ivey said. "They were screaming. They are so excited for Coach and they were so excited that I was her successor. The team, they were just a little bit more quiet because they are a little bit more quiet in nature. I think they were more emotional with Coach McGraw stepping away then when they found out it was me. But they really were excited. They were pumping their fists like,"Yes!" Then reached out to me separately and told me that they were all in. So that made me happy that they have the confidence in me and want to follow me. "
Now once the pandemic is over, Ivey is excited to start practicing with her team.
"I can't wait to get on the floor with them," Ivey said. "I can't wait to get out and do some workouts, individual workouts. A lot of hands on development. But the biggest thing, I just want to give them a hug because I'm just so happy that I get chance to lead these young ladies. Just let them know how much I love them and can't wait to get to work with them."
Ivey said she already has contacted recruits to get started on recruiting.
She knows it's a new era in Notre Dame Women's Basketball and is excited for the fans to be along for the ride.
"First, I want to thank the Irish community for always being pillars of hope and love," Ivey said. "They've always been out. They've always supported Coach McGraw. They've supported me as a student athlete. Supported this university and I want to thank them first off for all of their love and support. We wouldn't be in the program that we are without the fans. They are always the sixth man. For me, they know me. I've been here for so long. I'm just going to give the fans and give this Notre Dame community 1000% of my heart and soul. We're going to be fun and exciting to watch. It's going to be fun. I look forward to seeing the familiar faces and hoping we can gain some more fans as well."
Ivey is excited to get started.