Under the guidance of 26-year head coach Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame has evolved into one of the country's leading women's basketball powers. Since rising to varsity status in 1977-78, the Fighting Irish have appeared in 19 NCAA Championships, including a current streak of 17 in a row dating back to the 1995-96 season. Notre Dame has gone on to advance to the NCAA Sweet 16 no fewer than 10 times in the past 16 years, reaching the NCAA Women's Final Four on four occasions (1997, 2001, 2011, 2012), making the NCAA national championship game in 2001, 2011 and 2012, and winning college basketball's ultimate prize with the 2001 national championship.
To put that all in perspective, the Fighting Irish are one of only seven teams in the nation that have made 10 NCAA Sweet 16 appearances since 1996-97, and one of just seven schools in NCAA Championship history to advance to the NCAA Women's Final Four four times. In addition, Notre Dame is one of only five schools to make at least four trips to the Final Four and go on to win at least one national championship.
The Fighting Irish have posted four 30-win seasons (including a school-record 35 wins in 2011-12), nine 25-win campaigns and 26 20-win seasons during their storied history, including an astounding 432-135 (.762) record since 1995-96 (when they joined the BIG EAST Conference), averaging more than 25 wins per season during that time.
In BIG EAST play, Notre Dame ranks second all-time with a .771 regular-season winning percentage (216-64) and has won two BIG EAST regular-season titles (2001, 2012), all while finishing in the top four of the nation's toughest conference during 14 of its 17 seasons as a league member.
Using the Associated Press poll as a measure of success, the Fighting Irish have appeared in the national media rankings for 235 weeks in program history, including a school-record active streak of 96 consecutive weeks entering the 2012-13 season. Notre Dame also has spent 122 weeks ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll, all during the past 14 years (1997-98 through 2011-12). What's more, the Fighting Irish have knocked off many of their fellow AP poll members through the years, defeating 87 ranked teams all-time (including 74 in the past 14 seasons), including 30 top-10 opponents, nine against top-five squads and three against the No. 1 team in the country.
In its 36-year history, Notre Dame has developed 13 All-Americans, 12 WNBA players (including nine draft picks in the past 12 years), and 14 players and two coaches who have successfully competed in domestic and/or international competition (with either USA or Canada Basketball) and who have won a total of 24 medals (including 10 golds, led by Ruth Riley's gold medal as a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team).
When finding the perfect mix of academics and athletics, Notre Dame is a leader as well, being one of just three schools in the country that have combined a perfect 100-percent NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) score with a trip to at least the NCAA Sweet 16 four times during the past five seasons (2007-08 through 2011-12).