LAS CRUCES — A refreshed former coach hopes to give New Mexico State women’s basketball a fresh start.
Mark Trakh, former head coach at Southern Cal (2004-09) and, previously, Pepperdine (1993-2004), has agreed to take over the Aggie women’s program. He replaces Darin Spence, whose eight-year run over the Aggies and his contract expired when the 2010-11 season did.
Trakh (pronounced ‘track’), 55, has led five teams to NCAA Tournaments. He has recruited seven McDonald’s All-Americans, had four classes ranked in the top 12 nationally and, he said Friday at his introductory news conference has “graduated every single one of the players who have played with us over 16 years.”
Trakh has been out of the game since he resigned in 2009 from USC, where his teams went 90-64 — but also where he faced some criticism that those teams underachieved, given their talent. Trakh is 2-5 in NCAA Tournament play, with two of his teams reaching the second round.
NCAA Tournaments would be big steps forward at NMSU, which hasn’t been. But Trakh dreams even bigger than that.
“If New Mexico has 6 or 8,000 at a game, why can’t we? I think our community can support it in the exact same way,” he said.
Trakh’s base contract is $135,000 annually over five years, with other sources of income and incentives to be ironed out.
NMSU athletic director McKinley Boston, who has been battling sciatica, was prone on a sofa in his home when he interviewed Trakh.
“He’s hungry. He misses the game,” said Boston of Trakh. “He’s done it at a very, very high level. He understands the student-athlete. There really was no downside other than trying to convince him this is the place he needed to work.”