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Gobrecht Takes Fall for Slide by Trojans

She is fired as women's basketball coach after USC finishes season with four straight losses.

March 18, 2004|Mike Terry | Times Staff Writer

USC women's basketball Coach Chris Gobrecht was fired Wednesday after seven seasons by Athletic Director Mike Garrett.

Lisa Love, a senior associate athletic director who oversees the women's basketball program, said a search for a new coach would begin immediately.

Gobrecht, 49, who had a year left on her contract, guided the Trojans to a 15-13 record and a third-place tie with UCLA and Arizona State in the Pacific 10 Conference.

The season, however, ended badly for the Trojans. USC was in second place and a half game out of first place on Feb. 19. But the Trojans lost their last three Pac-10 games to Stanford, Cal and UCLA.

At the Pac-10 tournament, USC was routed by Washington in the first round, 67-50, ending the Trojans' chances for an NCAA tournament at-large berth.

The WNIT inquired whether the Trojans were interested, but USC officials declined an invitation.

That poor finish, along with USC's plans to build a new on-campus arena, apparently doomed Gobrecht in the eyes of Garrett.

"This was a very difficult decision because Chris meant a lot to the Trojan family. But we felt it was time for our women's basketball program to go in a different direction," Garrett said in a statement.

Said Love: "We thank Chris for her passion, dedication and hard work for the past seven years. We think the future of our women's basketball is bright, and we look forward to playing championship basketball."

Gobrecht said she had never been fired from a coaching job before and was hurt but not bitter.

"Good coaches get fired, and the next place they land they do better. That's how I'm looking at it," she said. "I'm still young, and I'm good at what I do. I will coach again. I don't know when, but I will coach again.

"I hate to leave this great young team. They're the kind of kids I need to be coaching, the arena is on the way and I don't get to finish the job.

"That is extremely disappointing. Someone is going to walk into an incredible situation."

Gobrecht, who played basketball at USC, coached for six years at Cal State Fullerton, 11 years at Washington and one year at Florida State before coming to USC in 1997-98. In 25 seasons she has a record of 425-311.

But in seven years at USC, Gobrecht was 93-108, had only three winning seasons, and never won more than 16 games in a season.

She never got the Trojans into the NCAA tournament, although USC did appear twice in the WNIT.

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