Tricia Cullop arrives as Miami's coach in 'full-circle moment'

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Tricia Cullop played her college basketball at Purdue for Lin Dunn, who had come to the Boilermakers a few years earlier from Miami.

Dunn is one of the biggest reasons why Cullop became a coach. So, it made sense that one day, she'd coach at Miami.

"It is a full-circle moment," Cullop said Thursday at her introductory news conference with the Hurricanes, one coming about a week after she accepted the Miami job and ended a highly successful 16-year run at Toledo. Cullop won 353 games at Toledo, going 86-17 in the last three years.

High-major schools had come calling before over the years - Wisconsin and Michigan were mentioned as potential landing spots during Cullop's tenure at Toledo - but no place had successfully lured her away from that program. And then Miami called. A deal got done within days.

"It was how she built the program that really stood out," Miami athletic director Dan Radakovich said. "She recruited well. She developed well. She scheduled tough. Her players performed in the classroom and connected with the community. She engaged the students, faculty, alumni, donors and media to create a gameday atmosphere second to none. In short, she continually delivered on the motto that drives her: to invest, improve and inspire."

The first three recruits are already signed. Cullop announced that associate head coach Fitzroy Anthony - who is beloved by players - is returning, along with assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Lonnette Hall, and director of basketball operations Margie Gill. Miami had only 10 players take the floor this season; of those, it's reasonable to think five or six will return as well.

Keeping Anthony was critical, Cullop said. She drove to Cleveland for the women's Final Four last weekend not to see Caitlin Clark - but to convince Anthony to stay.

"I think I may have scared him a little bit because I was so intent on keeping him," Cullop said.

At Miami, Cullop is replacing Katie Meier, who retired last month to end a 19-year stint where she led the program to the NCAA Tournament 10 times and guided the Hurricanes to the Elite Eight in 2023. Meier, the 2011 Associated Press Coach of the Year who had four years remaining on her contract with the Hurricanes, will remain with the university as a special adviser and ambassador for the athletic department. She was 362-208 at Miami.

Meier gave Cullop's opening news conference high marks.

"Knocked it out of the park," she wrote on X.

Cullop packed two bags for the move and is staying in a hotel for the time being. There's no time to house-hunt yet - there's a staff to finish hiring and a roster to continue filling. And she's already picked up on one of Miami's top selling points, that the university says it sees sunshine at least 284 days a year.

"Who can't sell this? Any time I call recruits, all I have to do is walk outside and FaceTime or send them a couple of pictures," Cullop said. "I mean, this is an unbelievable place."