Former Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw didn’t hold back on her thoughts about ESPN's treatment of UConn women’s basketball.
McGraw spoke with Kate Fagan and Jessica Smetana on the Off the Looking Glass podcast on Wednesday, saying the popular sports network is biased towards the Huskies.
McGraw, who led the Fighting Irish to two victories against UConn in the national semifinals to secure two NCAA championships in 2018 and '21, now works as an analyst with the ACC Network, operated by ESPN.
“UConn has done great things and they’ve won way more than anybody else, except Tennessee,“ McGraw said. “I think people measure their team by them. When we joined the Big East, we were like, ‘We want to get to where they are. That’s what we want to be. We’re trying to emulate them.’
“But I think it goes over the top with ESPN. That is Connecticut’s network. Notre Dame has NBC, Connecticut has ESPN. That is absolutely complete bias there.”
Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma has won 11 NCAA titles at Connecticut and made 21 Final Four appearances.
UConn, a program that typically has its weekly games aired on SNY and FOX (the official network of the Big East), has also had four of its games played on ESPN platforms this season. Other leagues like the ACC and SEC, which also have ESPN-affiliated networks, have several games broadcast throughout the week on ESPN platforms.
Beyond McGraw’s thoughts on the network favoring UConn, she also expressed her opinions on Auriemma’s direction for the U.S. national team selection process as well as her unfavorable relationship with Auriemma.
Auriemma, who has previously coached the women's national team, was on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics selection committee. The 2020 Olympics team featured five former UConn players, two Fighting Irish players and one from South Carolina, Baylor, Duke, LSU and Texas. Recently, Sky star forward and former Tennessee legend Candace Parker spoke out, saying Auriemma did not want her on the '16 Olympics team.
McGraw told Fagan and Smetana that her relationship with Auriemma was one that was “well publicized”. As a result, “several women coaches” told her that she needed to let the previous issues between them go.
“I had older women coaches say, ‘You’ve got to knock off that off. That’s not how you're supposed to be.’ And he could say anything he wanted,” McGraw said.
“So there was completely different views on what they would accept from a woman.”
Since 1996, UConn leads the head-to-head series 39–13 against Notre Dame, a series that includes eight Final Four contests.
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