New Mexico State’s head women’s basketball coach Mark Trakh is headed back to Troy to lead the USC Trojan women’s basketball program, the school announced Friday. Trakh returns to Southern California after six seasons at the helm for NM State, where he revitalized the program and created a a Western Athletic Conference powerhouse and constant NCAA Tournament team.
“Mark has been one the most successful coaches in the history of New Mexico State women’s basketball,” Director of Athletics Mario Moccia said. “I’m appreciative of him and the many staff members in his tenure for their hard work and dedication, which resulted in an unprecedented three-year run at NM State. We wish him luck at USC as their new head coach. The search for a new women’s basketball head coach will begin immediately.”
The 20-plus year veteran finished his career at NM State with an overall record of 104-80 and 57-33 in conference play. His 104 wins are third all-time for the Aggies behind Karen Fey (130, 1973-81) and Darin Spence (109, 2003-11). Trakh arguably guided New Mexico State to its golden era, claiming three-straight regular-season titles, three-straight tournament championships, three WAC Coach of the Year awards and WAC tournament MVPs.
He also coached a pair of WAC Player of the Years in Brianna Freeman (2015) and Moriah Mack (2017) in addition to 10 all-conference players, four all-defensive teamers, two all-newcomers and one WAC Newcomer of the Year recipient in Stefanie Gilbreath (2013).
Trakh inherited a team that went 6-24 overall and 3-11 in WAC play his first year (2011-12) and gave Las Cruces its first 20-game win season in seven years when the Aggies went 22-8 at season’s end in 2014-15. That season culminated in him earning his first of three-consecutive WAC Coach of the Year honors, including a WBCA Region VII Coach of the Year award.
After laying claim to their first WAC regular-season and tournament title, Trakh led the Aggies to just its fourth NCAA Tournament berth in 2015-16 with a historic 26-5 season. Despite losing his support staff, the gritty veteran found a way to have an even better season in 2016-17. After a shaky start to the non-conference season, NM State ran the table in WAC play and produced the program’s first undefeated season in league play (14-0) while also winning a program record 17-straight games.
With its third-straight WAC Tournament title, NM State joined Louisiana Tech (2002-04) as the only other team to do such in league history. As the No. 15 seed in the 2016-17 NCAA Tournament, Trakh led a fearless Aggie backcourt that led second-seeded Stanford almost wire-to-wire before falling late in the fourth quarter 72-64.
The three consecutive 20-plus win seasons by Trakh has only been matched one other time in Aggie history. Trakh leaves New Mexico State just seven games shy of reaching the 400 club with a 393-267 career record at the Division I level.