Yes, Muffet McGraw Is the ND Coach’s Real Name

Getty Head coach Muffet McGraw of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish looks on against the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs during the first quarter in the championship game of the 2018 NCAA Women's Final Four.

Notre Dame women’s basketball is back in the Final Four for the 9th time, as well as the 7th time in the last decade. Under head coach Muffet McGraw, the Fighting Irish are back after winning the program’s second-ever national championship last year in Columbus (Ohio).

While her given maiden name was Ann O’Brien, she confirmed on NPR in 2013 that her legal name is actually “Muffet.” In an interview with Peter Sagal, she nodded when asked if that was her actual moniker. She became Muffet McGraw after marrying her husband, Matt McGraw.

SAGAL: You know, we don’t have a lot of time. Let’s get to the most important question: Muffet? Muffet, is that your actual name, or is that a nickname?

MCGRAW: It’s my legal name.

SAGAL: It’s your legal name, but you’re saying you weren’t born with that name?


SAGAL: You’re nodding. Clearly people have asked about this before, right?


McGraw said the name came from the nursery rhyme “Little Miss Muffet.” When asked if the name has been a hindrance at all in her career, she joked that the men’s coach when she arrived in South Bend was “Digger” Phelps…so no, the name hasn’t gotten in the way.

Her maiden name is Ann O’Brien. She took her husband Matt’s last name.

McGraw on Gender Equality in Sports

At this week’s press conference for the Final Four in Tampa, McGraw was asked by a male reporter about her role as the lead female voice in NCAA basketball since former Tennessee coach Pat Summit passed. McGraw barely paused before delivering an extended answer.

“Did you know that the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in 1967 and it still hasn’t passed? We need 38 states to agree that discrimination on the basis of sex is unconstitutional,” she responded. “We’ve had a record number of women running for office and winning and still we have 23% of the House and 25% of the Senate. I’m getting tired of the novelty of the first female Governor of this state or the first female African-American mayor of this city.”

She continued:

“How are these young women looking up and seeing someone that looks like them preparing them for the future? We don’t have enough female role models. We don’t have enough female leaders. We don’t have enough women in power…When these girls are coming out, who are they looking up to tell them ‘That’s not the way it has to be.’ Where better to do that than in sports?”

Several reacted on social media to the answer. Actress Alyssa Milano said, “I love this so much.”

ESPN NBA analyst Doris Burke stated that several of the numbers referenced on representation disparity “are staggering.”

McGraw was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.
The Class of 2011 included: Val Ackerman, Ruthie Bolton, Vicky Bullett, Pearl Moore and Lometa Odom.

She should probably be looking at a Naismith Hall of Fame bid, as well. Here is a list of honors she’s received.

  • 2001 Naismith Coach of the Year
  • 2001 Russell Athletic/WBCA National Coach of the Year
  • 2009 Carol Eckman Award
  • 2011 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame
  • 2013 Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year
  • 2013 Associated Press Division I Women’s National Coach of the Year
  • 2013 Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division I Coach of the Year
  • 2014 espnW Coach of the Year
  • 2014 Associated Press Division I Women’s National Coach of the Year
  • 2014 USBWA Coach of the Year
  • 2014 Russell Athletic/WBCA National Coach of the Year
  • 2017 John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award
  • 2018 AP Coach of the Year

The Irish play Geno Auriemma and the UConn Huskies at 9 p.m. EST on ESPN2 for a chance at the NCAA final.

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