Lindsay Gottlieb leaves Cleveland Cavaliers for USC women’s position

Cavaliers assistant coach Lindsay Gottlieb admittedd she had no idea where she would be in 10 years during a long interview in March.

After spending 11 of her 22 seasons in the profession as a college head coach, she knew she would eventually want to be in charge again. Prior to joining the Cavs in June 2019, she led the University of California, Berkeley women’s team for eight years.

The Pac-12 drew her back on Monday, as a league source confirmed an ESPN report that Gottlieb had accepted a six-year contract to coach the University of California women’s team from the South.

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USC wasted no time in announcing the hiring of Gottlieb, 43, which led Cal to seven NCAA appearances and a trip to the Final Four from 2012 to 2018.

“I am very grateful to have the opportunity to serve as an assistant coach with the Cavaliers over the past two years. It has truly been a basketball dream come true for me to work not only in the NBA, but hand in hand with this amazing coaching staff who have taught me so much, ”Gottlieb said in a statement released by the Cavs. “I would particularly like to thank [General Manager] Koby Altman and [coach] JB Bickerstaff for believing in myself and providing an inclusive environment to enhance my coaching skills.

“This is a very special group of players who have a tremendous amount of talent and work ethic, and it was also an honor to work and develop relationships with them. The vision of this organization is what attracted me. in Cleveland, and I’m watching I can’t wait to see the continued development of this team and what these guys can become in the future.

Hired by the Cavs at the same time as Gottlieb, Bickerstaff said she has had several conversations about her future opportunities.

“She was wide open to whatever life threw at her,” Bickerstaff said Monday before the Cavs hosted the Indiana Pacers at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. “It wasn’t just about coaching. She was interested in front office and development issues. We had conversations about the WNBA.

“But I think that opportunity presented itself and that it was too good to pass up. It’s a historically rich university with a long, long history of great basketball. in a position where she can do it her own way and bring a unique flair to the college game and not just do what they usually did, it was just a great opportunity. ”

NBA ‘pioneer’ Lindsay Gottlieb slams glass ceiling

USC Director of Athletics Mike Bohn described Gottlieb as “a pioneer who broke the glass ceiling of men’s professional sports.”

Gottlieb was one of six female assistants in the NBA this season. When then Cavs coach John Beilein hired Gottlieb, she made an unusual move to quit a Women’s Power 5 program, becoming the first NCAA women’s coach to be hired by an NBA team. She was motivated not only because it was good for her husband Patrick and young son Jordan, but also for opening people’s eyes.

“The only way a man could leave a Power 5 head coach position would be if his job was on the line or if he had to be the NBA head coach,” she told the Beacon Journal in March. . “Part of my movement was to make people see that there is a synergy between men’s and women’s football and that it’s really about your personal characteristics and your skills and not what you have done. before or the appearance of people who have been in the role before you.

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Bohn recognized the traits of Gottlieb that Bickerstaff and the players praised for two seasons.

“I can’t think of a better coach, leader and role model for our young women,” Bohn said on the USC website.

Bickerstaff reiterated on Monday what stands out in Gottlieb’s relationship skills.

“You have to start with her as a human being because that’s where she has the most impact. How she cares about others, how she opens her eyes to different scenarios and things that are going on in the world. world, ”Bickerstaff said. “It’s everyday that you see it, you see how she hugs people, you see how people greet her. All of those things that make it difficult in our business, she was excellent.

“She genuinely cared about each individual and loved working with each individual and got to know them and bond with them, and these are the players and the coaches. Basketball, how she helped guys s to improve, how she helped guys get through tough scenarios. Working with young people and helping them grow up isn’t always easy, but it has become natural for her. Our guys are grateful and we are all grateful to have spent time with her, to have learned from her and to be a part of her basketball journey. “

Gottlieb said in March that she views relationships as the best part of coaching.

“When I was attending my first job in Syracuse until when I was a head coach and now in the NBA, I feel like I get the most passion from watching players get what they want to play and become a bigger part of the team than they thought possible or to accomplish things as a team that they didn’t know they could, “she said then.” That’s it. “Coaching. It doesn’t matter if they’re making billions of dollars or they’re a student, that part transcends gender and transcends level. This is coaching.

Because she was able to forge relationships so quickly, Bickerstaff said it accelerated her growth in the NBA.

“It’s a different monster… Dealing with professional athletes, with all the individual things that they have, the amount of money, social media and all of that stuff, is different,” Bickerstaff said. “Being able to handle all of this stuff and building relationships with these guys can be tough. She was able to do it seamlessly.

“For this reason, it gave him the opportunity to grow taller faster, but don’t hesitate and don’t be afraid to ask questions or step out of his comfort zone. relationships, you just try to stick to what you know. But her ability to jump into it has given her the opportunity to be uncomfortable. And then the more uncomfortable you are, the more you get in. learn about yourself, the game and then you feel comfortable. She has taken huge steps and it is because of her fearlessness that she has been able to do this. “

USC will offer a different challenge. He’s gone 11-12 this season and was eighth in the conference. Coach Mike Trakh retired in April after his second stint with the program.

The Troy Women reached four Final Fours and won the NCAA Championships in 1983 and 1984. Cheryl Miller, Cynthia Cooper, Lisa Leslie, Tina Thompson and twins Pam and Paula McGee are among the stars.

“It was a very difficult decision and even more difficult to say goodbye, but the opportunity at USC was something I couldn’t pass up,” Gottlieb said in the Cavs’ statement. “What I See is a program steeped in tradition with a history of excellence and one of the nation’s strongest brands. I look forward to being a part of that legacy and helping bring back the Women of Troy at the forefront of the national scene. “

Cavaliers assistant coach Lindsay Gottlieb has accepted a six-year contract to become USC's women's coach. [USA TODAY Network]

Altman said in a statement that the “cultural development fund” that Gottlieb brought to Cleveland fits perfectly with the front office’s future plan.

“What really stands out is how well she was able to communicate with our players, while demonstrating different points of view on a daily basis, which has helped change the outlook for the game for a lot of our guys,” he said. Altman said in a statement. “We were fortunate that she was willing to leave her position at Cal to join us, and we are not surprised that she has remained a sought-after head coach at the top of women’s college basketball.

“Lindsay will always be a part of the Cavaliers family and we wish her, her husband Patrick and son Jordan the best as they embark on this new journey back to California and USC.”

Bickerstaff called Gottlieb a calming presence within his team and whoever kept him in balance. He does not know who will take over in this regard.

“At some point, I’ll have to grow up, I guess, and calm down,” Bickerstaff said. “We’ll find out. She’ll be here with us for the next four games, and then someone will have to help me learn how to find my chi in the summer.”

Marla Ridenour can be reached at [email protected] Learn more about the Cavs at Follow her on Twitter at