EDITORIAL: Notre Dame women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw loses game, gains our respect
Muffet McGraw lost a basketball game on Sunday night.
A few days earlier, however, McGraw won something much more important — the respect and admiration of those who believe in simple fairness.
McGraw is the head coach of the powerhouse Notre Dame women’s basketball program.
Sunday night, McGraw’s Fighting Irish lost a heart-breaker to Baylor, 82-81, in the national championship game. That loss denied McGraw and her Irish team a second-straight NCAA Division I title.
Using her platform: During a Final Four news conference on Thursday, however, the veteran coach used her high-profile platform to discuss something beyond just dribbling, passing and shooting. McGraw passionately pushed for one of her core beliefs.
"When you look at men's basketball, 99% of the jobs go to men, why shouldn't 100 or 99% of the jobs in women's basketball go to women?" she said. "Maybe it's because we only have 10% women athletic directors in Division I. People hire people who look like them. That's the problem."
McGraw said the issue goes well beyond women's basketball.
"Did you know that the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced in 1967 and it still hasn't passed?" she said. "We need 38 states to agree that discrimination on the basis of sex is unconstitutional. 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."
A frustrated McGraw is disappointed that there aren't more female leaders across the country.
"I'm getting tired of the novelty of the first female governor of this state, the first female African-American mayor of this city. When is it going to become the norm instead of the exception?" McGraw said. "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 visible women leaders. We don't have enough women in power."
Statement go viral: Her strong statements immediately went viral across multiple social-media platforms, and in our view, her comments were spot on.
There are not enough women in power, and that desperately needs to change. McGraw should be applauded for her willingness put her reputation on the line for something she strongly believes in.
Some critics: It should be noted that not everyone appreciated McGraw’s comments.
Some believed it was the wrong venue for such a political statement. Others believed that McGraw’s remarks overstated the problem.
We believe both of those criticisms are dead wrong. It was the perfect platform to bring much-needed attention to a real and serious problem.
Stepping over the line: There is one area, however, where McGraw may have stepped over the line.
In a previous story, she said she would never again hire a male assistant coach.
Using the word “never” when talking about workplace hiring seems imprudent, at best. If a male assistant is clearly the better candidate, he should be hired. That's a matter of fairness, too.
Statements deserve to be heard: Despite that criticism, McGraw’s statements deserved to be heard, loudly and clearly, in York County and across the nation.
Hopefully, the folks in position of power were listening.