USC Song Girls returning to home basketball games at Galen Center

USC Song Girls dance during a game against Long Beach State in November.
(Kirby Lee / Associated Press)

Less than a year after they were controversially shut out from USC home basketball games for the first time in half a century, USC’s Song Girls will once again be welcome at the Galen Center this season.

The Song Girls will make their official return Friday night at USC’s charity exhibition against Villanova, a school spokesperson confirmed. From then on, the tradition-steeped, 12-woman spirit group will again be a fixture at men’s and women’s basketball games.

The decision by former athletic director Lynn Swann to remove the Song Girls from the sideline last season was met with an immediate outcry from many who felt Swann and USC’s athletic department offered little explanation in nixing one of the university’s long-standing athletics traditions.


Onyeka Okongwu and Isaiah Mobley overcome a sluggish start to lead USC to a 72-61 exhibition victory over Villanova at the Galen Center.

Oct. 18, 2019

“I don’t understand it,” Hilary Hodgkins, the Song Girls’ alumni advisor, told the Los Angeles Times last year. “For the life of me, it makes no sense to me why athletics is even worried about a dance team.”

Swann never offered much of an explanation as to why, prior to his resignation in September. A USC statement at the time cited “ongoing management concerns, time constraints and space issues at the Galen Center” as reasons for the decision.

It’s unclear if any of the concerns cited by Swann were actually mitigated or who made the choice to reverse his initial decision. But on Friday, the Song Girls will return to USC basketball, sharing the court again with the Trojan Dance Force, just as they had for the 24 years prior.