Alumni endow women’s basketball coaching job
Observer Staff Report | Monday, February 16, 2015
Former Notre Dame women’s basketball player Karen Robinson Keyes and her husband Kevin Keyes made a $5 million gift to Notre Dame to underwrite the salary of the women’s basketball head coach, the University announced Monday in a press release.
The Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women’s Basketball Coach, as the position will be titled, is the first endowed coaching position in University history and is thought to be the largest endowment in women’s college basketball, according to the press release.
“We are so very grateful to Karen and Kevin for this generous and groundbreaking gift,” University President Fr. John Jenkins said. “It is especially fitting, given the central role Karen played in the early success of a women’s basketball program that has become — on and off the court — one of the very best in the nation.”
Karen Keyes, who studied American studies as an undergraduate and earned a master’s degree in business at Notre Dame, played for the Fighting Irish from 1987 to 1991 under head coach Muffet McGraw. Keyes earned the title of Midwestern Collegiate Conference player of the year both her junior and senior year.
“Muffet is one of the most important influences in our lives,” Karen Keyes said. “We are proud to honor her, recognize her dedication to the University and continue to admire all of the successful women she has coached and developed over her entire career.”
Kevin Keyes, also an alumnus, played varsity tennis for the Irish while earning degrees in economics and business administration.
“We are very grateful to Karen and Kevin for this remarkable gift,” Jack Swarbrick, vice president and director of athletics, said. “The fact that Notre Dame’s first head coach endowment comes from one of Coach McGraw’s former players and her family speaks volumes about the impact Muffet has had on the young women who have been a part of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program.
“Kevin was also a varsity athlete at Notre Dame, and we know that both he and Karen believe passionately in the role that athletics plays in the education of young student-athletes and the power of a great educator like Muffet to impact lives.”
Karen and Kevin Keyes currently serve on the University’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council, which, according to its mission statement, focuses on improving relationships between different sports and individual athletes, encouraging participation in community service projects, aiding communication between the Athletic Department and the athletes and “creating awareness among the campus community of what it is like to be a student-athlete at the University of Notre Dame.”
Karen Keyes currently coaches women’s basketball at Ridgewood High School in New Jersey and serves on the board of REED Academy, a school serving students with autism. She is also a member of the Women for Health Network at The Valley Hospital, according to the press release.
McGraw is currently coaching her 28th season of women’s basketball at Notre Dame, during which her teams have logged 686 wins. She is a member of both the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
“I am overwhelmed and humbled by the incredible generosity that Karen and Kevin have shown with this gift,” McGraw said. “Karen holds a special place for me as one of my first point guards here, and she, Kevin and their family remain a treasured part of the Notre Dame women’s basketball program.
“It means so much to me to have our alumnae remain close to our program year after year as we continue to build on the foundation that they created, both on the court and in our community.”