USC brings back Mark Trakh as new women’s basketball head coach

USC’s long search for a new women’s basketball head coach ended on Friday, as Athletic Director Lynn Swann announced Mark Trakh would return after an eight-year absence to lead the Trojans.

“We are thrilled to welcome Mark back to USC,” Swann said.  “It was important for us to hire a coach who really wanted to be at USC, who truly cares about our student-athletes and who believes in the Trojan way of excelling.  We found that coach in Mark Trakh.  He has the experience and maturity to help our young team grow and develop.”

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Trakh, 61, previously coached USC for five seasons, from 2005 to 2009, guiding the Trojans to two NCAA Tournament berths and four Pac-12 Tournament semifinals (one final). The NCAA Tournament appearance in 2005, Trakh’s first season, was the program’s first in seven years, and USC progressed past the first round, losing on a last-second basket against top-seeded Michigan State in the Round of 32.

After departing USC in 2009 for personal reasons, Trakh spent two years away from basketball before coaching the past six years at New Mexico State, where he compiled a 104-80 record. The Aggies were 24-7 overall last season and boasted a perfect 14-0 record in conference play. They lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to eventual finalist Stanford.

“I’m excited to once again be a part of the great tradition at USC,” Trakh said. “I feel that there is a ton of potential in this team, and I look forward to start working with them.”

Trakh takes the place of former head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, who resigned last month after four years at USC. The Trojans finished 14-16 and lost to Cal in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament in Cooper-Dyke’s final season.

USC finished with a 15-14 record in Trakh’s final season, falling to Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship in the Trojans’ first-ever tournament final.

“The goal and expectation is always to get to the Final Four,” Trakh said. “I really want to reignite the tradition of excellence that we have at USC.  It all starts with recruiting and coaching up the women and helping them succeed.  I also look forward to coaching again in the Pac-12, which is filled with great teams and coaches and is really a conference of national contenders.”

Trakh’s arrival brings an end to an extended coaching search during which multiple candidates linked to USC took positions at different programs — some at rival Pac-12 schools.

“Mark is a great teacher of the game,” Swann said. “Players enjoy playing for him.  He is a very effective recruiter.  And he has a knack for taking teams to the NCAA Tournament, which we look for him to continue doing.”