With her jersey already hanging in the rafters of the Galen Center, Cynthia Cooper-Dyke has returned to campus as the new head coach of USC women’s basketball.
Owner of two NCAA championships, an Olympic gold medal and four WNBA titles as a player, Cooper-Dyke brings instant credibility to the Trojan sideline after resurrecting three programs in her eight-year career as a collegiate head coach.
“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.
USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said: “In Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, we have a proven, winning coach who happens to be a USC basketball icon.
“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,” he added. “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.”
Cooper-Dyke played for the Trojans from 1982 to 1986, leading the team to three Final Four appearances and back-to-back NCAA titles. In her four seasons at USC, the team posted an astounding 114-15 record. She won a gold medal with Team USA in 1988 and added a bronze in 1992.
In 2010, she was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame alongside hoops greats Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen and Jerry Buss.
Cooper-Dyke had an illustrious WNBA career, winning four consecutive championships for the Houston Comets from 1997 to 2000 before retiring.
As a guard, she led the league in scoring in three consecutive seasons, captured WNBA MVP trophies in 1997 and 1998, and earned All-Star honors three times in four years.
“Some people, when they hire a coach, the athletic department hits a home run,” said Van Chancellor, Cooper-Dyke’s head coach with the Comets. “Southern California has hit a grand slam. She is a perfect fit.”
Added Chancellor: “She’s the hardest-working person I’ve ever been around. She’s a recruiting machine, and she loves Southern California. As a player she had the most tenacity, she was gritty, hard-nosed and hard-working. And she possesses the same characteristics as a coach as she did as a player.”
In 2005, Cooper-Dyke became the head coach at Prairie View A&M University, where she led the Panthers to their first NCAA Tournament bid in her second season. In 2010, she went on to coach at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, leading the Seahawks to a school-record 24 wins and their first postseason appearance in her first season.
Cooper-Dyke comes to USC after coaching one year at Texas Southern University. She has a record of 150-106 as a head coach.