LOS ANGELES — Lindsay Gottlieb is returning to the Pac-12 as the head women’s basketball coach at Southern California.
The school on Monday announced the hiring of Gottlieb, an assistant coach with the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 43-year-old Gottlieb spent the past two seasons with the Cavs after a successful stint as the women’s head coach at California, where she built the Golden Bears into a national power from 2011-19. Cal went 179-89 under Gottlieb and made seven NCAA Tournament appearances in her eight seasons in Berkeley, reaching the Bears’ first Final Four in 2013.
“I am inspired by the incredible history of this program and excited about the opportunity to do special things with the young women I will have the privilege to coach,” Gottlieb said in a statement.
“I went to the NBA to challenge myself at the highest levels of the game of basketball and was fully invested in that journey,” she added. “However, the commitment of President Carol Folt and athletic director Mike Bohn to women’s basketball at USC, and to my vision of success, made it clear that now is the right time to come here and use all my coaching experience to partner with the young women in the program, the administration and our future student-athletes to make USC women’s basketball the most dynamic program in the country.”
Gottlieb was hired away from Cal by Cavs coach John Beilein in 2019, becoming the seventh female assistant coach in NBA history.
But Beilein, the former Michigan coach, left Cleveland after less than a season, and the Cavs have had two rough years while Gottlieb has been on their staff. Cleveland is staggering to the finish of the current season on a 10-game losing streak and will miss the playoffs once again.
Gottlieb was often praised by Cleveland’s players for her preparedness and basketball knowledge. And while she was something of a pioneer in her jump from the women’s game, Gottlieb’s success at Cal made her an obvious target for college programs looking to reach national prominence.
Bohn said Gottlieb is “a trailblazer who smashed through the glass ceiling of men’s professional sports. I cannot think of a better coach, leader, and role model for our young women.”
Gottlieb seized an undoubtedly lucrative collegiate opportunity with the Trojans, who can give her the financial resources and national visibility necessary to restore the women’s program to the perennial winner it was during the 1980s and early 1990s with Hall of Famers Cheryl Miller, Cynthia Cooper and Lisa Leslie.
Gottlieb replaces Mark Trakh, who retired late last month after going 65-50 with no NCAA Tournament appearances in his second stint in charge of the Trojans.
USC has made just one NCAA Tournament appearance since 2006 and had just two 20-win seasons since 2005 — an improbably poor track record for a powerhouse university in the heart of the talent-rich Los Angeles area. The Trojans went 11-12 last season, finishing eighth in the Pac-12.
Gottlieb is a New York state native who played college basketball at Brown, graduating in 1999. She was the head coach at UC Santa Barbara from 2009-11 before landing at Cal.
AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.