Tributes poured in from Gamecock athletes and others Tuesday, remembering psychology professor Kendra Cusaac as someone who touched many lives across the USC campus.
Cusaac, 45, died Monday. The cause of death was not immediately known.
Douglas Wedell, chairman of the University of South Carolina Department of Psychology, said Cusaac was a vibrant teacher who had a huge effect on her students. Wedell said he had been dropping in on her classes, notifiying students of her passing.
“Everyone is very upset but very appreciative of all the time Kendra spent with them,” Wedell said. “She always had kind words and was smiling.”
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On social media, some of the biggest names in Gamecock sports, past and present, posted tributes to Cusaac, who had served as a sports psychologist for USC athletics since 2006.
Among postings on Twitter, former quarterback Stephen Garcia called Cusaac “one of my all time favorite teachers,” while running back Mike Davis noted Cusaac was “full of life.” Tweeted lineman Gerald Dixon Jr., “Hurts me so bad that she is gone! One of the best professors on this campus!”
Timothy Malone, director of wellness at the university, said he and Cusaac worked closely together for nearly 10 years with student athletes on cases ranging from performance anxiety to mental issues.
“She was one of the most important parts of our program,” Malone said. “Her personality was infectious, and she always had a smile on her face. No matter what was going on in her personal life, she put our kids first.”
Malone said Cusaac worked with a range of athletic teams, but she was an intricate part of women’s soccer, swimming and diving, equestrian and track and field.
“She was a very caring, very professional woman with the biggest heart on campus,” Malone said. “She was the bright light in the whole program.”
Cusaac received a doctoral degree in psychology from USC before becoming a professor in 1996, according to Wedell. She began teaching at the university in 2005. She also was a licensed clinical psychologist and had a private practice, Wedell added.
Alex Schmidt, 23, graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He said it was always difficult getting into Cusaac’s classes because so many people wanted to take them.
“She had enthusiasm and passion for teaching,” Schmidt said. “She was great at engaging the class and making things interesting.”
USC Deputy Athletics Director Charles Waddell said Cusaac will be difficult to replace.
“She did a hell of a job with our student athletes,” Waddell said. “Her legacy was very deep. ... Based on the reaction of the current student athletes calling their coaches today, she will not be forgotten.”
Funeral services had not been announced early Tuesday night. Bostick-Tompkins Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
Gamecocks athletic department
It is with greatsadness that we share the news of Dr. Kendra Cusaac’s sudden death.Dr. Cusaac served as a (cont)—Gamecock Athletics (@GamecocksOnline)
http://t.co/SlkiR2aCf5 November18, 2014
Former USC star (and No. 1 overall NFL draft pick) Jadeveon Clowney
Sad to hear my favorite professor at USC passed.Dr Cusaac always believed in me.My thoughts & prayers go out to her family. She'll be missed— jadeveon clowney 7 (@clownejd) November 19, 2014
Former USC quarterback Stephen Garcia
Damn...just heard aboutDr. Cussac. One of my all time favorite teachers from USC. So damnsad...— Blackbeard Actual (@StephenGarcia)
USC running back Mike Davis
Dr. Cusaac died lastnight ?? this is crazy one of my fav teachers at USC so full oflife— IG Mike28Davis (@Mike28davis)
Gamecocks equestrian team
Sad to hear of the passing of our own Dr. Cusaac (left), she was a very special Gamecockand will be missed by all!—Gamecock Equestrian (@GamecockEQ)
pic.twitter.com/5QiH2qm6h3 November18, 2014
Former USC wide receiver Tori Gurley
RIP Dr. Cusaac you always believed in me even when I did not believe inmyself.— Tori Gurley (@TGurley81)
USC swim coach McGee Moody
Dr. Cusaac meant so much to @GamecockSwimand all Gamecock Athletes. She truly cared for our athletes. She will be missed!— McGee Moody (@scswcoach)
Former USC wide receiver Ace Sanders
Wow RIP Dr. Cussac one of my favorite professors at SC— Ace Sanders (@WhyNot8Teen) November 18, 2014
USC basketball player Ty Johnson
Today we lost a very strong,caring,respectful woman and my favorite professor. Learn a lot from you and your in a better place RIP Dr Cusaac— Tyrone Johnson (@TherealTJ3) November 19, 2014
USC offensive lineman Brock Stadnik
I can not believe Dr.Cusaac has passed away. She was a big impact in my life and for manyothers as well.—Brock Stadnik (@GameBrock65)
#RIP November18, 2014
USC Defensive lineman Gerald Dixon Jr.
Doctor Cussac is thebest! Hurts me so bad that she is gone! One of the best professors onthis campus! Such an impact on many students!— Gerald DixonJr. (@DixonJr92)
USC tight end Rory Anderson
I really can'tbelieve this. RIP Dr Cusaac. She was an amazing woman. God blessed herfamily & allow them to get through these tough times—Busta (@BustaAnderson)
Former USC basketball player RJ Slawson
RIP Dr. Cussac you willtruly be missed— RJ Slawson (@Its_Slaw_Son)