Former Los Angeles Sparks coach Julie Rousseau will chair the USC athletic department’s Black Lives Matter Action Team to take on racial inequality, it was announced Tuesday.
Rousseau, who currently serves as an adjunct professor in USC’s Gender and Sexuality Studies department, will oversee the team’s effort to examine and address social injustices experienced by Black student-athletes at USC, according to Trojans athletic director Mike Bohn.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have someone with Dr. Rousseau’s experience, compassion and ability to connect with people to lead this effort,” Bohn wrote on Twitter.
A Los Angeles native, Rousseau was an assistant with the Sparks for the WNBA’s inaugural 1997 season, before becoming the interim head coach. After a stint as full-time head coach in 1998, Rousseau moved on to coach at Stanford and Pepperdine.
In a statement, Rousseau said she was excited to lead “a supportive team effort aimed at eliminating social injustice and racism within Trojan Athletics, the University and its surrounding communities. Like the late, great civil rights activist and Congressman John R. Lewis once said, `We may not have chosen the time, but the time has chosen us.’ The time begs for us to continue the work and legacy of our ancestors. For such a time as this, I hope to be a bridge builder for creating an environment that exemplifies regard and respect for the lives of Black student athletes at USC. All Lives Can’t Matter, Until Black Lives Matter.”
Rousseau will work alongside an advisory committee of 25 athletes, coaches and staff members.
In addition, a steering committee will collaborate with Rousseau on the eventual execution of the actions and reforms identified through the team’s work. The steering committee will meet weekly to monitor progress and “debrief on the various town hall, group and individual meetings occurring regularly within the program,” USC officials said.
That committee includes Bohn, Senior Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator Joyce Bell Limbrick, Faculty Athletic Representative Alan Green, Senior Associate Athletic Director and Director of Student-Athlete Academic Services Denise Kwok, Deputy Athletic Director Paul Perrier, and Senior Associate Athletic Director and Chief of Staff Brandon Sosna.