Cynthia Cooper-Dyke Leaves Texas Southern

Cynthia Cooper-Dyke could have been the missing piece to move the needle on national attention for historically black colleges and universities. Not just the women’s ranks – all black college sports.

And now, she’s leaving another HBCU, Texas Southern, for a dream gig at the school where she made a national name as a world-class athlete, the University of Southern California. It is the second gut-punch departure for Cooper-Dyke from a Texas HBCU. The first, Prairie View A&M University, she left as the greatest coach in the history of its women’s basketball program. There she delivered to the Panthers three regular season SWAC championships, two SWAC tournament titles, two conference coach of the year awards, and four straight NCAA postseason tournament appearances in either the national championship or the women’s national invitational tournaments.

This past season at Texas Southern, her first at the university, she captured the regular season championship and turned a 5-26 roster from 2012 into a 20-12, number one seed in the SWAC women’s basketball tournament. The Lady Tigers also appeared in the WNIT.

And now, the coaching legend who also earned the title of PVAMU alumnae during her journey, is gone again.

For as much as Cooper-Dyke has done for HBCU athletics and women’s basketball as a player and coach, it’s painful to consider that her stops at black colleges were only and always stepping-stones to greater opportunities. She is one of a literal handful of coaches, male or female, to move from an HBCU sports program to one of the NCAA’s power conferences with her return to USC, where she starred as an All-America guard and led the Lady Trojans to two national titles in the 80’s.

It is not to judge Cooper-Dyke’s defection back to California. As a competitor and proven program builder, it’s only natural to expect her to seek out and embrace the biggest challenges in front of the largest audiences. But within the black college ranks, she had an opportunity to help build a culture – a legacy that would have transformed conditions and perceptions about black college sports, black college student athletes, and black colleges as institutions of national importance and value.

She’s gone again. And probably for good this time.

  • NG

    Would’ve been nice to see her coach at TSU longer than 1 year to see what she did with the program.

  • HBCU Gameday (@HBCUGameday)

    Indeed, Norris, this is the type of thing that comes with HBCUs competing at the D1 level. Coaches are always looking for the come-up, and D1 HBCUs are usually “starting from the bottom,” on that level. The best HBCUs can hope for is to find a talented gem, let them work their magic and watch them move on. Gone are the days of Big House Gaines and Bobby Vaughn spending their entire career at HBCUs. The recent hiring of Norfolk State’s Anthony Evans at FIU is an example.I discuss this further in my commentary “A Good (HBCU) Coach Is Hard To Keep

  • norris720

    she deserves a congratulation. She has done and outstanding job. Now it is time for her to move to the next level. USC has the money to pay her worth. TSU and Prairie View will all miss her and wish her success at USC. HBCU WILL HAVE TO PAY A HIGHER PRICE TO COMPETE WITH PWI’S.