Ivey introduced as new Notre Dame coach, succeeding McGraw

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FILE - In this Dec. 5, 2015, file photo, Notre Dame associate coach Niele Ivey, left, and head coach Muffet McGraw watch during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against UConn in Storrs, Conn. Ivey is ready to take over a Notre Dame program where she spent 17 years as a player and assistant coach. Ivey follows her mentor Muffet McGraw , who retired after 33 years at the school Wednesday, April 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

Niele Ivey is coming home.

Ivey was introduced as the new coach of the Notre Dame women's basketball team on Thursday, succeeding her mentor, Muffet McGraw, who retired a day earlier.

“Those are big heels to fill,” Ivey said during an online news conference. “When you follow a legend, it's not easy. But I want to be myself. Always be true to myself, try to stay as authentic as I can.”

The 42-year-old, who got emotional at times during the news conference while sitting with her son, Jaden, has been preparing for this job for much of her adult life. She helped lead the Fighting Irish to a national championship as the point guard in 2001 and was an assistant coach on the Notre Dame team that won the title in 2018. She was on the Memphis Grizzlies staff last year after 17 seasons at Notre Dame.

“I am thrilled Niele will be the next leader of the Notre Dame basketball program,” said McGraw, who spent 33 years as the head coach of the Irish before retiring Wednesday. “She’s one of the best young coaches in the game today, and her success with the Grizzlies has helped make her even more prepared for her new role."

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said the succession plan was first discussed about two years ago and that no one else was considered for the job.

“As long as Niele remained interested and available, whenever Muffet made that decision, this was the path we’d move in,” he said.

McGraw described her protege as charismatic.