WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- One of the greatest players in the history of women's basketball will soon call the Port City home. UNC Wilmington will introduce Cynthia Cooper-Dyke as its women's basketball coach at a Monday afternoon news conference.
Cooper-Dyke replaces Ann Hancock, whose contract was not renewed. Cooper-Dyke will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame later this year.
A native of Chicago, Cooper-Dyke was a four-year standout at Southern California, where she sparked the Women of Troy to back-to-back NCAA championships in 1983 and 1984. She later completed her Bachelor’s Degree at Prairie View A&M.
Cooper-Dyke, 47, collected four medals while representing the United States. She won a gold medal at the 1987 Pan American Games in Indianapolis, captured gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, claimed gold at the 1990 FIBA World Championship in Malaysia, and won bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games.
Cooper-Dyke began her professional career overseas and played 10 seasons in Spain and Italy. She returned to the United States in 1997 to play with the Houston Comets of the newly-formed WNBA.
She subsequently led the Comets to four consecutive WNBA championships and was named WNBA Finals MVP four times. Cooper-Dyke was voted the league’s MVP in 1997 and 1998 before retiring in 2000.
Cooper-Dyke moved into the coaching ranks in 2001 as the head coach of the Phoenix Mercury and spent two seasons on the sidelines before returning to the Comets’ playing roster briefly until an injury curtailed her season in 2003. She announced her final retirement prior to the start of the 2004 campaign and finished as Houston’s all-time leader in scoring (2,601 points), free throw percentage (.871) and assists (602).
The popular player-turned-coach joined the Prairie View program in May 2005 and guided the Panthers to their first Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) regular season title, SWAC Tournament crown and NCAA Tournament berth in 2006-07, collecting conference Coach-of-the-Year honors. PVAMU repeated as SWAC regular season champions in 2008 and 2009 under Cooper-Dyke. The 2008 club made its first appearance in the WNIT and Cooper-Dyke was voted SWAC Coach-of-the-Year for the second time in 2009 after leading the Panthers to their second NCAA Tournament appearance.
Cooper-Dyke's tenure at Prairie View was not without controversy. In January 2008, the NCAA put the women's basketball program on four years probation, including a reduction in scholarships, for major violations. Among the violations, the NCAA said Cooper-Dyke gave small amounts of cash to players as well as tickets to Houston Comets games. Other violations included out-of-season practices and an improper off-campus meeting between Cooper-Dyke and a recruit.
Cooper-Dyke, who was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame last June, has also been active beyond the basketball court. In 2000, she published her autobiography, “She Got Game: My Personal Odyssey,” chronicling her childhood, basketball career and her mother’s battle with breast cancer.