After four years as head coach of the women’s basketball team, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke resigned on Friday following USC’s loss to Cal in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament.
“We thank Cynthia for her dedication, hard work and service and we wish her the very best,” Athletic Director Lynn Swann said. “She is a great Trojan and will always be a valued member of the Trojan Family.”
Cooper-Dyke has a lengthy history at USC, starting from her time as a player from 1982-1986. In 1983 and 1984, she helped lead the team to back-to-back NCAA Championship victories, and she finished her career in USC’s history books as ninth all-time in points, eighth in assists and third in steals. Her legacy was recognized in 1999, when she was inducted into USC Athletic Hall of Fame.
With her accomplishments as a Trojan, along with winning an Olympic gold medal and four WNBA championships, Cooper-Dyke came into the USC program as a coach with expectations that she would bring the team back to the status it enjoyed during her playing career. Cooper-Dyke had already coached three other programs (Prairie View A&M, UNC Wilmington and Texas Southern) from subpar records to contention, and she won a conference championship with Prairie View A&M in 2006.
Then-Athletic Director Pat Haden praised Cooper-Dyke when he hired her in April 2013.
“In Cynthia Cooper, we have a proven winning coach who happens to be a USC basketball icon,” Haden said. “She was a part of the best basketball ever played here at USC, and she has seen success at so many levels of the game. As a coach, she has turned around several programs. We believe she can lead USC back to successful women’s basketball, and we welcome her back to the USC campus.”
During Cooper-Dyke’s debut campaign, her team played at a level that had not been seen at USC in quite a few years. The Trojans went from finishing the 2012 season at 11-20 to racing out to a 3-0 start with Cooper-Dyke at the helm, a feat that had not been accomplished since 1998.
From there, USC defeated its first ranked team since 2011, taking down No. 12 Colorado in January 2014. Cooper-Dyke not only took her team to the Pac-12 Tournament that season but also ran the table, coaching the Trojans to a huge upset victory over Oregon State to clinch the championship trophy and a 22-13 overall record.
Cooper-Dyke’s first year in charge was both a significant improvement for the program and an unqualified success, but her following years did not live up to that bar. In the 2015 season, USC went 7-11 in conference play; in 2016, it went 6-12; and this season, it finished 5-13. Based off of records, the Trojans have slowly drifted further away from the promising 2014 season. Cooper-Dyke lit a fire under USC early on, but it has since fizzled out.
“I absolutely love USC, and I always want what is best for this university,” Cooper-Dyke said. “What is best right now is that I step aside as the women’s basketball coach and let someone else lead this team.”
Throughout her final season, Cooper-Dyke also had to deal with a plethora of injuries throughout the year, including losing redshirt senior guard Jordan Adams for the entire season and numerous others for multi-game stretches. However, junior forward Kristen Simon, senior guard Courtney Jaco and freshman guard Minyon Moore all enjoyed standout individual seasons; the team had the talent but was unable to put it all together for a winning season. Cooper-Dyke was initially able to bring life to the team, but the search is now on for someone else to make that same impact on the program for the long haul.
“The USC women’s basketball program has a tradition built on national championships, great players and outstanding coaches,” Swann said. “We look forward to bringing in a coach who will add to that legacy, one who will move our program forward while doing so in one of the world’s greatest cities, at one of the country’s finest academic institutions and in the nation’s premier women’s basketball conference.”
Cooper-Dyke will always be welcomed on campus thanks to her history as both a player and coach, but she relinquished her official role with the University on Friday, opening the door for another Trojan to build a legacy with the women’s basketball team.
“I appreciate the opportunity I was given to coach at my alma mater, a university that has meant so much to me since my days as a student-athlete,” Cooper-Dyke said. “I wish we had more success, but I am thankful for the effort given by the players, coaches and support staff and am fortunate to have worked alongside them. I also want to thank our fans for their loyal support.
“I will always love USC and will be cheering on the Women of Troy in the future as they accomplish great things.”