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USC's Michael Cooper Apologizes to UCLA for Expletive

Jan 20, 2010 – 8:23 PM
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Michelle Smith

Michelle Smith %BloggerTitle%

Michael CooperMichael Cooper had made a great first impression as the new USC women's basketball coach.

His second impression needs some work.

Cooper, the former NBA star who won five championships in the "Showtime" era with the Los Angeles Lakers, issued a public apology Wednesday to UCLA coach Nikki Caldwell after directing an expletive at the Bruins on Sunday.

Cooper came into the interview room following USC's 70-63 win over UCLA at the Galen Center and said, "My opening statement is [expletive] UCLA."

Cooper issued his letter of apology to Caldwell on Wednesday and would have no further comment, according to the school's sports information director.

"I want to offer my sincerest apology to you, your players and your university for the inappropriate comment I made after our game on Sunday," Cooper said in the letter. "There is no excuse for it, and I realize it is outside the bounds of good sportsmanship. As a coach, I know I am a role model to student-athletes, and my comment was certainly not a proper example for them. I will work hard to correct that.

"I realize how poorly my remarks reflect on me, my university as well as our conference. For that, I am truly sorry. I have great respect for all our opponents and especially UCLA as our cross-town rival. I wish you and your UCLA team the best of luck this season and look forward to our next game."

There is a possibility the Pac-10 could reprimand or take disciplinary action against Cooper. Caldwell had no comment on the incident.

The Women of Troy were traveling Wednesday for Thursday's Pac-10 matchup at Washington.

Cooper, who took over the USC program this season after eight years as the head coach of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, has the Women of Troy sitting in sole possession of second place in the Pac-10 behind No 2-ranked Stanford. USC is 10-6 overall with three wins over ranked teams this season.

Sunday's game against UCLA determined who would take over second place in the standings and was a hotly contested game with 12 lead changes and six ties. But the nationally televised contest did not appear to include any altercations between players or coaches, though USC athletic director Mike Garrett got into a heated verbal exchange with some UCLA fans in the student section.

Cooper is one of two new coaches in the Pac-10 this season, along with former NBA coach Paul Westhead, who is in his first year at Oregon. Both teams are near the top of the conference standings.

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