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USC Names Miller as Women's Coach

September 03, 1993|EARL GUSTKEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cheryl Miller, seven years after leaving as the star of the women's basketball team, returned to USC Thursday as the Trojans' coach.

Athletic Director Mike Garrett, as expected, named her to replace Marianne Stanley.

Also hired and named associate head coach was Fred Williams, a Trojan assistant from 1984 to 1991.

Miller, 29, was a four-time All-American at USC and the leading scorer on the gold-medal-winning 1984 U.S. Olympic team.

"I can't believe I'm back home," she said in a prepared statement.

"I have the same emotions that I had when I signed my letter of intent with USC--excitement, nervousness, confidence."

Terms of her contract were not revealed.

Miller has never been a head coach, but she was a USC assistant from 1987 to 1991.

Said Garrett, after the late-afternoon announcement: "It's great to have her back. She's a great Trojan, and no one understands women's basketball better. I'm as happy as a Trojan in the Rose Bowl, winning the national championship."

Stanley, who coached the USC women the last four seasons, is in litigation with USC and Garrett over her contract, which expired in June. She has filed an $8-million sex-discrimination suit.

Robert L. Bell, the attorney representing Stanley, cautioned that any action by USC might be nullified by a court decision.

"I've got questions about the legality if they have made an offer," Bell said before the hiring of Miller was announced.

"Whatever they attempt at this point still has to await the outcome of the court's decision."

Last week, Judge John G. Davies of the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles rejected a motion that would have reinstated Stanley for the 1993-94 season while her suit against USC and Garrett is pending.

Bell appealed that decision, then filed a motion with Davies, asking for a preliminary injunction stopping USC from hiring a new coach until the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rules on the appeal.

"It's not over until it's over," Bell said. "The court has not given its final word. Anything they are doing now is P.R. until the court speaks."

Bell said he was surprised Miller would have taken the job instead of supporting Stanley's cause of getting paid the same as George Raveling, men's basketball coach.

"She's a pioneer in women's basketball, and I'm surprised she would get into a situation like this," he said.

Last June, after long negotiations, Stanley rejected a three-year, $288,000 contract offer, saying she wanted pay parity with Raveling.

Garrett said he contacted Miller last summer.

"Cheryl is the one I wanted all along," he said. "No one can teach the game better than Cheryl, and Williams will be a great X's and O's guy."

In Williams' eight seasons at USC, he coached standouts such as Miller, Cynthia Cooper, Rhonda Windham, Cherie Nelson, Pam and Paula McGee and Lisa Leslie, who returns this fall for her senior season.

Williams, 36, known as a top recruiter, has coached as an assistant the last two seasons at UC Irvine. He played at Inglewood High and Boise State.

Miller will be on the spot this season, which begins Dec. 1 at Northern Illinois. She inherits what should be a strong team.

Three starters return from Stanley's 22-7 team last season, including 6-5 All-American Leslie, point guard Nicole McCrimmon and forward Jualeah Woods.

Other key returnees are sophomore swing player Jody Anton and guards Tracy Adams and Tracy Atwater.

And Stanley's No. 1 recruit last spring was widely sought junior college standout Karleen Shields, who averaged 42.2 points a game at Contra Costa College last season.

USC reached the NCAA West Regional last season, losing to eventual NCAA champion Texas Tech.

As a college player, Miller had arguably women's basketball's greatest career. From 1983 to 1986, she won the Naismith Award three times. No one else has won it more than twice.

She finished her career with almost every school record, and is still the all-time USC scoring leader with 3,018 points. She averaged 22.3 points a game. She remains USC's career leader in rebounds with 1,534, in blocked shots with 320, and in steals with 462.

A native of Riverside, she is the sister of Reggie Miller, a guard for the Indiana Pacers. In her four years, the Trojans won the NCAA championship twice, in 1983 and '84.

In recent years, Miller has done television sports announcing.

Times staff writer Elliott Almond contributed to this story.

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