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LSU women's
basketball coach resigns amid allegations of improper
conduct

LSU women's
basketball coach resigns amid allegations of improper
conduct

Pokey_chatman_0

Despite press reports that said otherwise, LSU's acting women's basketball coach said he was unaware of any improper conduct that would have caused Pokey Chatman to abruptly resign as head coach from a program she had coached to 90 victories during the past three seasons.

Despite press reports that said otherwise, Louisiana State's acting women's basketball coach said he was unaware of any improper conduct that would have caused Pokey Chatman to abruptly resign as head coach from a program she had coached to 90 victories during the past three seasons. Bob Starkey said he could not explain the timing of Chatman's decision. A day after she announced she would resign after the NCAA tournament, Chatman said Thursday she was leaving the team immediately. "There's been 20 to 25 things that are just floating out there, and I think she thought if she just stepped away from it she could eliminate that from even multiplying," Starkey said. "She has her reasons, and hopefully, soon she'll address that herself."

TheTimes-Picayune of New Orleans reported on its Web site Thursday that the resignation was prompted by the school's discovery of alleged inappropriate conduct between the 37-year-old Chatman and one or more players. Later, ESPN.com reported LSU had found out about an alleged improper sexual relationship between Chatman and a former player.

LSU spokesman Michael Bonnette said athletic director Skip Bertman was not available to comment.

TheTimes-Picayune offered few details, citing university sources who said it was unclear when the alleged improper conduct took place. Bertman told the newspaper no formal investigation had taken place but that an informal investigation "might have happened."

Chatman hasn't been available to take questions since initially saying in a written statement Wednesday that she was leaving LSU after the NCAA tournament to pursue other career opportunities. On Thursday, she announced she had decided to leave immediately.

"My resignation...has prompted speculation and rumors that far exceeded my expectations, and it is clear that my presence would be a great distraction during the NCAA Tournament," Chatman said in a statement.

Starkey said Chatman did venture onto the LSU campus Thursday to tell the team of her decision. "Certainly the kids were disappointed to get the news. Pokey recruited all of those kids either as head coach or as an assistant," said Starkey, who added he didn't believe Chatman was forced to resign. "These are not just good basketball players, they're good kids, and I think they're very close, and I think that will help us to try and move forward with it."

Players have been off-limits to the media since the announcement.

The Lady Tigers (26-7), ranked 10th nationally, last week upset the University of Tennessee, who were then number 2 in the nation, in the Southeastern Conference tournament before falling to Vanderbilt in Sunday's tournament final.

Chatman was 90-14 as LSU's head coach. Before that, she was 15-5 as acting head coach during the latter stages of the 2003-04 season, when longtime coach Sue Gunter left the team because of lung disease. That included a trip to the Final Four in New Orleans, where the Lady Tigers fell in the semifinals to Tennessee.

LSU advanced to the Final Four in her first two seasons as head coach in 2005 and 2006, winning the SEC regular-season titles along the way.

Chatman, a Louisiana native, has been at LSU as both a player and coach for nearly 20 years. A guard, she was one of LSU's career assist and steals leaders. After her playing career ended in 1991, she spent one season as a student assistant coach and then 12 seasons as associate coach under Gunter.

In 2005, Chatman received a four-year contract extension that pays her close to $400,000 a year plus postseason bonuses ranging from $15,000 for making the NCAA tournament to $70,000 for winning a national title. The highest-paid coaches in women's college basketball, Pat Summitt of Tennessee and Geno Auriemma of the University of Connecticut, both earn more than $1 million per year. (Brett Martel, AP)

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