Basketball Hall of Famer Cynthia Cooper-Dyke has been named head coach for USC women’s basketball program, athletic director Pat Haden said on Thursday.
As a player, Cooper-Dyke led USC to a pair of NCAA championships before winning an Olympic gold medal in 1988, four WNBA titles with the Houston Comets and resurrected three collegiate programs (Prairie View A&M, UNC Wilmington and Texas Southern) as a coach.
“In Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, 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 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.”
“If you were to ask me what my dream job was at any point in my coaching career, I would always have said my dream is to come back and lead the USC women’s basketball team,” Cooper-Dyke said. “I’m literally living the dream coming back to California and being named the new women’s basketball coach at USC.
“I feel like the different programs I’ve been a part of, from Prairie View A&M to UNC Wilmington to Texas Southern, have prepared me in many ways for the Pac-12 and USC. We’ve been successful at these programs. I can’t promise it will happen in a year like it did at these other programs, but I promise we will put forth our best effort as a staff to create a program that embraces the work ethic and mentality that will help us be successful.
“I’m very excited to coach every one of these USC players. I’m excited about the talent we have. I’m excited to teach and learn and motivate and really see them blossom into the players they can truly become. It’s a very talented group of women and I’m excited to be their new head coach.”
Cooper-Dyke, 49, has an eight-year collegiate head coaching record of 150-106 (.586), with seven post-season appearances and three league Coach of the Year honors.
The 2013 USC squad was 11-20 overall and finished seventh in the Pac-12 with a 7-11 record under fourth-year head coach Michael Cooper (no relation). The Women of Troy last appeared in the NCAA tournament in 2006 and were a WNIT finalist in 2011.
One of the world’s greatest and most decorated women’s basketball players, Cooper-Dyke was the 1981 L.A. City Player of the Year at Locke High in Los Angeles while averaging 31 points a game and leading her team to the California State 4A championship. She also was on Locke’s track team.
She then starred as a 5-foot-10 guard for USC’s 1983 and 1984 NCAA championship teams. A four-time letterwinner (1982-84, 86), as a senior in 1986 she was named an All-Conference first teamer and made the NCAA All-Tournament team as the Women of Troy made it to the NCAA Final. She averaged 12.9 points, 3.1 assists and 2.1 steals during her career as USC won 114 of 129 games. She currently ranks ninth on USC’s all-time scoring list (1,559 points), eighth in assists (381) and third in steals (256).
She was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999, the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010 (the first WNBA player enshrined). She was the Women’s Sports Foundation’s 1998 Sportswoman of the Year. In 2011, she was voted by fans as one of the Top 15 players in WNBA history.
She and her husband, Brian Dyke, who is a sports agent, have 10-year-old twins, son, Brian Jr., and daughter, Cyan.