LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michael Cooper quit as Southern California women’s basketball coach on Wednesday after his first losing season in four years.
Athletic director Pat Haden said a national search will be conducted for Cooper’s replacement. Haden is also seeking a men’s basketball coach to replace Kevin O’Neill, who was fired in mid-January.
The Trojans’ women’s team went 11-20 this season and finished seventh in the Pac-12 with a 7-11 record. Cooper was 72-57 overall at USC, which has had eight coaching changes since 1976.
“USC women’s basketball has a storied heritage, with national championship teams and some of the best players in the history of the sport,” Haden said. “We believe we should be competing for Pac-12 championships and NCAA bids on a consistent basis.”
Cooper’s most successful season was in 2010-11, when the Trojans went 24-13 for their most wins since 1993-94 and reached the WNIT title game. Their 18 road wins set a school record. They failed to reach the postseason in his other three years.
“This program has to move forward, and it should have moved forward under my leadership. The best thing is for me to step down,” Cooper said. “Coaching these young women at USC has been a wonderful experience for me.”
Cooper came to USC from the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks, where he served as coach for eight seasons including back-to-back league championships. He starred with the Los Angeles Lakers as a player, winning five NBA titles.
He spent four years as a Lakers assistant and one year as a Denver assistant that included a stint as head coach.