Notre Dame Fighting Irish Women's Basketball Makes Staff Change
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Notre Dame Women’s Basketball Makes Staff Change

Notre Dame women’s associate head coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham will not return as part of first-year head coach Niele Ivey’s staff.

The 1997 Notre Dame graduate helped lead the Fighting Irish to their first Final Four during her senior season, is still the program’s No. 3 all-time scoring leader, returned in 2012 as an assistant and was inducted into the school’s Ring of Honor in January 2017.

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Former Notre Dame player and assistant coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham gives instruction to Arike Ogunbowale during a game
Beth Cunningham (center) will not return after serving eight seasons at Notre Dame. (Fighting Irish Media)

Prior to her role at Notre Dame, where she instructed the wing players, Cunningham had been the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth University from 2003-12, posting a record of 167-115 (.592 win percentage).

Cunningham, Ivey and Carol Owens had served together on former head coach Muffet McGraw’s staff from 2012-19, with Notre Dame advancing to six Final Fours in those eight seasons, highlighted by the 2018 national title. It also won or shared a regular season and postseason conference tournament title, if not both, all eight years, the Big East in the first and the ACC in the next seven.

It is only the second staff change in those eight years. The other came last August when Ivey took an assistant’s position with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, resulting in the hire of former 2012-16 Fighting Irish guard Michaela Mabrey, who remains with the program.

Among Cunningham’s pupils were two-time All-Americans Kayla McBride and Arike Ogunbowale, plus 2019 No. 1 WNBA pick Jackie Young. McBride and Ogunbowale were the No. 3 and No. 5 picks by the WNBA in their respective years, with Ogunbowale also becoming the program’s all-time scoring leader.

Expected to fill the vacancy is yet another former Notre Dame player and head coach at the Division I level, Coquese Washington.

Former Notre Dame player and future assistant coach Coquese Washington
Coquese Washington (right) is expected to join Niele Ivey’s staff at Notre Dame. (Penn State Athletics)

Like Ivey and Morgan Cunningham, Washington has a long relationship with Notre Dame.

• She played guard from 1989-93 when McGraw's career was still in its opening stages.

• She became a “Double Domer” while finishing law school at Notre Dame from 1994-97, and also played basketball professionally.

• She joined McGraw’s staff in 1999 — where she coach point guard Ivey for the 2001 national champs — and was with the Irish through 2007, when Ivey succeeded her. Full circle, indeed.

• She was the head coach at Penn State from 2007-19, posting a 209-169 record (.553 win percentage), highlighted by advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2012 and 2014. But in four of her last five years PSU finished at or under .500, so she was released after the 2019 season and joined the Oklahoma staff last year.

In a May 12 article in The Oklahoman, it revealed that Washington “is expected to be named an assistant coach at Notre Dame, her alma mater” while the Sooners would hire their former All-American Courtney Paris on their staff.

The announcement will be made whenever Notre Dame’s human resources department has finished its due diligence.


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