Notre Dame women's basketball assistant coach Beth Morgan Cunningham leaving program

Anthony Anderson
Tribune Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — Beth Cunningham and Notre Dame are parting ways.

Cunningham, an associate head coach under Muffet McGraw the past eight seasons and a two-time All-American as an Irish player, “is no longer a member of the women’s basketball staff as she is pursuing other coaching opportunities,” according to program spokesperson Josh Bates.

Bates, an ND associate athletics communications director, said in that same text that he did not have a timetable for when Cunningham’s successor would be named.

Cunningham could not immediately be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Niele Ivey was named Irish head coach on April 22, just 15 minutes after the school announced McGraw’s retirement.

Ivey, also a former standout player at ND, was an assistant to McGraw for 12 years before leaving after the 2018-19 season to become an assistant with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies.

Cunningham — the No. 3 scorer in program history as Beth Morgan, and the all-time leader when she graduated in 1997 — returned to her alma mater in 2012 following a nine-year run as head coach at Virginia Commonwealth.

With the Rams, she compiled a 167-115 record and led the program in 2009 to what remains its only NCAA Tournament bid. VCU averaged 22 wins over Cunningham’s final five seasons.

Notre Dame posted an opening for an associate head coach of women’s basketball last Tuesday on its job site. The post expired Sunday.

One potential candidate for the position could be former ND player and assistant Coquese Washington who recently left after just one season as an assistant at Oklahoma. She confirmed to The Norman (Okla.) Transcript for a story published Wednesday that she resigned for another professional opportunity that will be announced soon.

Prior to joining the Sooners, Washington was Penn State head coach for 12 seasons, compiling a 209-169 record with four NCAA Tourney appearances, three Big Ten regular-season titles and two Sweet 16 advancements.

She was an Irish assistant from 1999 to 2007 — including in 2001, when Ivey was the senior point guard on Notre Dame’s first national title team.

Washington, who holds a law degree from ND, played for the Irish from 1989 to 1993 and was a junior co-captain when they made their first-ever NCAA Tourney appearance in 1992.

Besides Cunningham, ND’s other assistants this past season were Carol Owens and Michaela Mabrey.

Owens, who also carried the title of associate head coach, has been with the Irish each of the last 10 seasons and for 20 overall. Mabrey, a former ND player, returned as an assistant last year.

Notre Dame’s accomplishments during Cunningham’s eight seasons on the bench included five Final Fours, three national runner-up finishes and the 2018 national title. The Irish went 244-19 over the first seven years of that stretch, then 13-18 this past season.

McGraw’s retirement followed 33 seasons at Notre Dame and 38 overall. The Naismith Hall of Famer compiled a 936-293 record, including 848-252 while guiding the Irish with nine Final Fours, seven national title-game appearances and two national titles.

Notre Dame assistant Coach and former player Beth Morgan Cunningham speaks after being inducted into the basketball program’s Ring of Honor in 2017. A university spokesperson confirmed Monday that Cunningham will not return to the bench next season and is pursuing other opportunities, according to a team spokesperson.