Warning: This article contains accounts of graphic sexual language.
Before her retirement from coaching in March, Texas Southern women's basketball coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke was accused of demeaning and abusive behavior by multiple players, according to Chantel Jennings and Dana O'Neil of The Athletic.
A Title IX investigation eventually prevented Cooper-Dyke from having any in-person contact or forms of communication with players during the second half of the 2021-22 season outside of practices or games, an order that extended to assistant coaches Carlos Wilson and Atallah McKinney.
The university’s student conduct coordinator, Dontia S. Warmack, first informed the team of the no-contact order on Jan. 20. On March 17, the school announced Cooper-Dyke's retirement following three seasons with the team.
The allegations featured the coach using "overt sexual language with her players, in ways that many found to be inappropriate, demeaning and degrading," per The Athletic.
When told about one player suffering depression, Cooper-Dyke reportedly responded, "No, she will be all right, she just needs some dick, that’s all."
She also allegedly told a player in the midst of doing squats: "You got a fat ass and I can tell you like to ride some dick."
Former players described similar encounters at previous coaching stops at UNC-Wilmington and USC.
"This is a woman who demeaned us, who talked to us like we were not human," former USC player Thaddesia Southall said. "She made me hate basketball, and no one did anything to stop her."
"This woman mentally and emotionally terrorized us," another former USC player said.
In a statement sent via text message to The Athletic, Cooper-Dyke wrote:
"Throughout my years as a coach, I’ve had countless interactions with players in my role as their coach, mentor and friend. I had positive relationships with the majority of players and staff, and my only intention was to maximize players’ potential and help them be their best. While these allegations are untrue, everyone deserves to work, play and learn in a respectful environment, and I deeply apologize for and regret any words used during the course of a spirited game or practice that offended or hurt someone.”
Cooper-Dyke was named to the WNBA's list of its greatest-ever players in 2021 as part of celebrations for its 25th anniversary. The 59-year-old won four WNBA titles, earning Finals MVP each season, and was named WNBA MVP twice in her career. She also won two NCAA championships at USC.
She began her coaching career with the Phoenix Mercury in 2001-02 before spending 14 seasons at the NCAA level.