Auriemma, Graves, McGraw and Schaefer Make the Final Cut

ATLANTA (March 14, 2018) – The finalists for the Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year include two candidates who have collectively won the award 13 times and two candidates looking to win their first. The Atlanta Tipoff Club announced today the four coaches making the final ballot as Geno Auriemma (University of Connecticut), Kelly Graves (University of Oregon), Muffet McGraw (University of Notre Dame) and Vic Schaefer (Mississippi State University).

During the current season, Auriemma is looking to win his 10th Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year, the most of any coach, and his third consecutive honor. Should McGraw prevail it would be her fourth, trailing the legendary Pat Summit (University of Tennessee), who received the award five times, for second all-time.

Graves and Schaefer are both looking to gain their first Naismith honor in 2018. Graves would be the second coach from the Pac-12 Conference to win, following Tara Vanderveer (Stanford) who has won the award twice. Schaefer would become the fourth SEC coach to take home the award and the first in more than a decade with the last SEC coach to win the Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year Award being Louisiana State University’s Dana “Pokey” Chatman in 2005.

“The sport of basketball is incredibly fortunate to have such outstanding leaders, and their success was rewarded by being named a Werner Ladder Naismith Award finalist,” said Eric Oberman, executive director of the Atlanta Tipoff Club. “We’re proud to honor these coaches for their dedication and leadership during the 2017-2018 season and look forward to seeing them lead their teams into a competitive postseason.”

“It is an honor to recognize the Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year Finalists,” said Chris Filardi, vice president of marketing for Werner Co. “These talented individuals are a great example of the hard work and dedication required to be successful in Women’s College Basketball.”

Fans will have a chance to vote for their favorite coach beginning March 19 and running through 6 p.m. EDT on March 30. By visiting, fans can cast their ballot for the Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year honor. The fan component makes up 5 percent of the overall vote.

The 2018 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year winner will be announced on Saturday, March 31.

About the finalists:

Geno Auriemma, University of Connecticut

  • The nine-time Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year led the Huskies to the American Athletic Conference Regular Season and Tournament Championships for the fifth straight season.
  • UCONN completed an undefeated regular season (29-0), including 16-0 in the conference, for the third straight year and the 10th time in program history.
  • UCONN has won 101 straight games against AAC opponents since league play began in 2013.
  • The Huskies are the top seed in the NCAA Tournament and will play in the Albany region.

Kelly Graves, University of Oregon

  • Graves has led the Ducks to a 30-4 record as they enter the NCAA tournament.
  • Oregon looks to continue the team’s momentum as a No. 2 seed in the Spokane Regional, recording the highest seed in program history.
  • Along the way, Oregon recorded its most wins ever in a single season.
  • The Ducks won its first conference championship since the 1999-2000 season and first Pac-12 Tournament championship.

Muffet McGraw, University of Notre Dame

  • The injury-depleted Irish (29-3, 15-1 record) won its fifth straight ACC regular season title and reached the ACC Tournament title game for the fifth consecutive year.
  • Notre Dame went 9-3 against ranked teams, earning seven of those victories on the road, and achieved three wins against teams ranked in the top 10.
  • The Irish earned 15 wins over RPI Top-50 opponents, which ties UCONN for the most in the country.
  • Going into postseason, the Irish are the No. 1 seed in the Spokane region of the NCAA Tournament.

Vic Schaefer, Mississippi State University

  • Schaefer guided Mississippi State to the program’s first SEC regular-season championship by notching the first undefeated regular season by a league team in 20 years.
  • His Bulldogs posted a school-record of 32-straight wins, the second-most in SEC history, against eight ranked teams and 11 that were over RPI Top-50 teams.
  • He took this year’s Bulldogs to a school-record No. 2 ranking, and was named SEC Coach of the Year by fellow league coaches.
  • The Bulldogs are the No. 1 seed in the Kansas City region in the NCAA Tournament.

The four finalists were chosen by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s national voting academy, comprised of leading journalists from around the country, current and former head coaches, former award winners and conference commissioners, all of whom based their selections on the outstanding coaching performances during the 2017-18 college basketball season. The vote was tabulated and certified by Aprio, formerly Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, the largest full-service, independent CPA-led business advisory firm, based in Atlanta.

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Celebrating 50 Years of the Citizen Naismith Trophy

Founded during the 1956-57 season, the Atlanta Tipoff Club is committed to promoting the game of basketball and recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of those who make the game so exciting. The Atlanta Tipoff Club administers the Naismith Awards, which have become the most prestigious national honors in all of college basketball. Named in honor of Dr. James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball, the Naismith Trophy recognizes the top Men’s and Women’s College Basketball Players of the Year. Other Naismith Awards are presented to the Men’s and Women’s College Basketball Coaches of the Year, Boys’ and Girls’ High School Basketball Players and Coaches of the Year, Basketball Officials and Outstanding Contributors to the game. Celebrating its 50th year by honoring past winners, the Citizen Naismith Trophy was first presented to UCLA’s Lew Alcindor (later known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) in 1969. Old Dominion’s Anne Donovan won the inaugural Women’s Citizen Naismith Trophy in 1983.


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Media Contact:
Traci Messier
Jackson Spalding for the Atlanta Tipoff Club