ND's McGraw wants more women in power

McGraw lobbies for more women in power (2:00)

Notre Dame women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw hopes that women in power becomes the norm rather than an exception. (2:00)

TAMPA, Fla. -- Notre Dame women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw spoke out Thursday at the Women's Final Four about being a strong voice for women's issues.

"We don't have enough female role models," McGraw said. "We don't have enough visible women leaders. We don't have enough women in power.

"All these millions of girls that play sports across the country, we're teaching them great things about life skills. But wouldn't it be great if we could teach them to watch how women lead? This is a path for you to take to get to the point where in this country we have 50 percent of women in power. We have right now less than 5 percent of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies."

McGraw, in her 32nd season at Notre Dame, is making her ninth trip to the Final Four with the Irish. Notre Dame won the national championship last year and in 2001. Tennessee's Pat Summitt was long the pre-eminent voice among women coaches, not just in basketball but across college athletics.

Summitt stepped down as Tennessee coach in 2012 and died in 2016 from the effects of early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. McGraw has stepped more into the role that Summitt used to fill in regard to talking about how to inspire leadership among women in all occupations.

"I'm getting tired of the novelty of the first female governor of this state, the first female African-American mayor of this city," McGraw said. "When is it going to become the norm instead of the exception? How are these young women looking up and seeing someone that looks like them, preparing them for the future?"

McGraw has had male assistant coaches before but said she made the decision in recent years to have an all-female staff and has spoken about that to the media. She points to the fact that there is not a level playing field for women to get jobs in men's basketball.

"When you look at men's basketball, 99 percent of the jobs go to men," McGraw said. "Why shouldn't 100 or 99 percent of the jobs in women's basketball go to women? Maybe it's because we only have 10 percent women athletic directors in Division I. People hire people who look like them. And that's the problem."

McGraw has said that she would like to see more women get opportunities in men's basketball. But there hasn't been much progress on that. As for why she is speaking so passionately in recent years, McGraw said she just felt it was time.

"I think women across the country in the last few years have just said, 'Enough,'" she said. "Time's up. Time's up. It is our turn. If it's going to happen, we have to do something about it. You see women marching in record numbers across the country. Women are coming out and being more active politically.

"I've never watched CNN as much in the past two years as I am now. We have the Equal Pay Act. Women are making 77 cents on the dollar. That's just white women. Women of color are lagging way further behind. I'm not talking about white women being coaches. We need more diversity in our game as well."