former Louisiana State University women's
basketball coach Pokey Chatman had an affair with one
or more of her players will hurt women's basketball,
WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes said Friday.
Swoopes, who made
headlines two years ago by announcing that she is a
lesbian, said she hasn't spoken with Chatman since her
resignation in early March.
''If it happened,
ethically it's probably not good,'' Swoopes said. ''To
see something like that happen, whether it's true or not, I
think it's just very damaging to women's basketball.''
Comets' star was back at Texas Tech, where she helped the
Lady Raiders win a national title 14 years ago, for a
preseason game against the Detroit Shock.
In a wide-ranging
interview, the only WNBA player to win three league MVP
trophies talked about Chatman, the future of the league, how
much longer she'll play, and her alma mater. It was
Swoopes's first visit to Texas Tech since coming out
in late 2005.
Swoopes said she
had worried about returning to conservative West Texas
and what fans might think right after revealing her
sexuality. She said she feels differently now, thanks
to encouragement and support she's received since.
there's still people who aren't too happy with it,'' Swoopes
said. ''But when I made that decision I just said, 'You know
what, I'll deal with whatever happens when it happens,
good, bad, indifferent.' "
plenty of good when she played on Texas Tech's 1993 national
championship team. She played under Marsha Sharp, who
coached the Lady Raiders for 24 years before resigning
in 2005 without ever having a losing season.
But last year
under new coach Kristy Curry, Texas Tech had its first
losing season (15-16) in a quarter century.
Swoopes said it's
only a matter of time before Tech returns to the upper
echelon of women's college basketball.
doubt in my mind that they can get back to that level,''
Swoopes said. ''I think coach Curry has that same passion''
as Sharp did.
She wishes WNBA
fans had more passion. One of the original players in the
league, Swoopes acknowledged that the WNBA continues to
struggle. Much of that can be attributed to diminished
exposure from when the league began in 1997.
''I think until
we get back to the point to where we're getting more
games on television and we're getting more sponsors to come
out, we're going to kind of stay where we are right
now,'' she said.
She added that
the ''incredible'' talent of college players would seem to
be in the league's favor. But, she said, ''TV is what sells
Though the length
of her college career was finite, the duration of her
professional one isn't. The 36-year-old star said she checks
her gut at the end of each season and that her
decision to keep playing is guided by whether she's
having fun and continuing to feel challenged.
''When I lose
that, then I know it's time for me to move on to something
else, and right now I still have that hunger, and the fun
and the challenge of it,'' she said.
Swoopes said she
feels she understands the challenge Chatman is facing
after leaving LSU amid the allegations. The ripple
effect--particularly on black female coaches,
which Chatman was--is difficult to quantify, she
''We've had to
work extremely hard to get to where we are, to get to the
top,'' Swoopes said. ''Pokey was a role model for a lot of
young girls out there, a lot of women who are already
But in the long
run, Swoopes said, Chatman's successful coaching career
won't be overshadowed by the allegations.
true or not, I still think what she's done, her legacy,
will be left,'' Swoopes said. ''She will definitely be
missed, not just at LSU but in the game of women's