New Hurricanes women’s basketball coach Tricia Cullop ready to fill Katie Meier’s big shoes

CORAL GABLES — With record-breaking viewership for the NCAA Tournament and long lines stretching to see stars like Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, Tricia Cullop knows women’s basketball is having a moment in popular culture.

After 16 years of coaching at Toledo, she is coming to Miami to try to bring that energy to South Florida.

“You see what’s happening nationally in women’s basketball, and we want this program to catch (hold) of it, as well,” Cullop said.

Cullop, who was named Miami’s new head coach last week, held her introductory press conference Thursday, laying out why she wanted to go to Miami and what her vision for the program is after former coach Katie Meier retired after 19 years at the helm.

“I didn’t want to go just anywhere,” Cullop said. “I wanted to go where there were unbelievable people in the administration, that I was set up for success. This was an unbelievable situation because Katie did such a great job, and her staff. So the cupboard’s not bare. It’s rare that you can come into a program that has all these things and it didn’t go through a losing season to have to make the change. When the job came open, I was like, ‘That is such an incredible opportunity,’ and when I came to visit, I was blown away.”

Miami athletic director Dan Radakovich said there was “national interest” in the position after Meier’s retirement.

“Our goal was not only to find a coach with proven success on the court,” Radakovich said, “but someone who leads by example and recruits at a high level, emphasizes academics, prepares her student-athletes for life after basketball and energizes the fanbase. That’s a pretty long list, and I will tell you we found that coach when we spoke with Tricia Cullop.”

Cullop was successful at Toledo, notching a 353-169 record. She won five MAC regular-season titles and earned trips to the NCAA Tournament twice. Cullop also won the WNIT in 2011. She was named the conference’s coach of the year six times, including the last three years.

Part of what made UM appealing to Cullop was that the program is ready-made for success. The Hurricanes reached the NCAA Tournament in two of the last three seasons, including a run to the Elite Eight in 2023. In Meier’s last season, Miami went 19-12 and narrowly missed out on the tournament.

Meier is retiring from coaching but staying on with the athletic department as an advisor. Cullop said she has and will continue to reach out to Meier for advice, but she does not want to bother the former coach too much.

“We’re not here to blow this thing up,” Cullop said. “She did an amazing job in her tenure, building this program into something really special, nationally. Our job is to pick up the reins and try to not only maintain that but to take it to another level. It won’t be easy to follow in her footsteps because of the respect that we do have for her, but I will say we’re going to certainly pull up our bootstraps and try.”

Although Cullop’s arrival marks a departure from Meier’s nearly two decades as UM’s head coach, there will still be continuity in the program. Cullop said assistant coach Fitzroy Anthony is staying with the team, as are assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Lonnette Hall and Director of Basketball Operations Margie Gill. Cullop brought two of her assistant coaches, Jessie Ivie and Danielle Page, with her from Toledo.

Cullop said she hopes to return the eligible players from last year’s team and avoid losing players to the portal because she thinks they are capable of making another postseason run.

“We return a strong nucleus, and our goal is not just not be barely in (the NCAA Tournament) but to be all the way in and to make sure we’re in and making some noise,” Cullop said