Niele Ivey Was The Only Choice To Lead Notre Dame

Vince DeDario

The Niele Ivey era has officially begun at Notre Dame as the former Irish point guard and assistant coach was formally introduced as the fourth Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Women’s Head Basketball Coach in program history.

She was joined by athletic director Jack Swarbrick and her son Jayden Ivey during the introductory press conference.

Swarbrick made it very clear that Ivey was the one and only choice to succeed former head coach Muffet McGraw who officially announced her retirement yesterday via social media.

He stated that for the past two years Ivey has essentially been the “coach in waiting” and that her leaving Notre Dame following last season to take a job with the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA was a “perfect sabbatical” for her in her preparation in becoming the new head coach at Notre Dame.

Swarbrick made it clear there was only one choice to replace the legendary head coach.

Ivey made a passionate opening statement thanking all the people that helped her get to where she is now and started to break down as she mentioned both McGraw, who recruited, coached, and later brought her on as an assistant, and her son Jayden who will be attending Purdue and playing basketball for the Boilermakers later this year.

Many questions were asked of Ivey by the media who were virtually joining the press conference but many centered around how she would put her stamp on a program that had the same successful head coach for the last 33 years. She consistently mentioned her personal mantra to love, serve and mentor, and how those three qualities will be the bedrock of her time as head coach of the Irish.

One curious part was that there was no mention of her staff during this press conference as the questions were filtered prior to being asked. That leads to speculation about whether there will be a shake up in the current configuration of the staff which includes Carol Owens, Beth Cunningham and Michaela Mabrey. We will all have to wait and see on that front.

When McGraw’s announcement officially hit yesterday the only name that kept surfacing as a replacement was Ivey’s. She has been a part of both national championships, the first as a player and the second as an assistant coach, as well as all nine Final Four appearances in program history. She has been the lead recruiter that put together some of the best recruiting classes to take the floor at Notre Dame.

Yesterday, Muffet McGraw talked about the feeling of the first home sellout in 2001 when Ivey was her point guard and floor general and with the hiring of Ivey to take the reigns the fans will continue to pack Purcell Pavilion to see if she can continue McGraw’s winning ways, in her own way.

During the press conference introducing Ivey, her son Jayden had on the jersey his mother wore in that sellout game, and later wore when she helped lead the Irish to their first title.

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