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Hall of Famer Van Chancellor Named Lady Tigers Coach

Hall of Famer Van Chancellor Named Lady Tigers Coach

BATON ROUGE — Van Chancellor, who was recently selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, has been named the head women’s basketball coach at LSU, director of athletics Skip Bertman announced on Wednesday.

Chancellor, who succeeds Pokey Chatman, becomes the fifth women’s basketball coach in the school’s 32 year history of playing the sport.

Chancellor, a veteran head coach of 29 years at both the collegiate and professional levels, brings to LSU an impeccable resume, one that includes leading the United States to a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics Games, four WNBA titles with the Houston Comets and 14 NCAA Tournament appearances at Ole Miss.

“It’s a rare occasion that an athletic director has the opportunity to hire a person with the credentials that Van Chancellor brings to our women’s basketball program,” Bertman said. “Van has experienced tremendous success at all levels of women’s basketball.

“He developed Ole Miss into a powerhouse in the SEC, won WNBA titles with the Houston Comets and led our national team to a gold medal in the Olympics. He knows how to win championships and that’s what we have come to expect at LSU. Van is a man with a great deal of energy and drive and we are excited to have him become our women’s basketball coach.”

In addition to his recent selection to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, along with the likes of Roy Williams, Phil Jackson and Mendy Rudolph, Chancellor is also a member of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Success has followed Chancellor at every turn, as he posted a 38-0 mark in International competition as head coach of the United States Olympic Team. Add to that his 211 victories as head coach of the Comets and the 439 games he won at Ole Miss, and Chancellor comes to LSU with nearly 700 victories to his credit. 

Most recently, Chancellor served for 10 years as head coach of the Houston Comets from 1997-2006. During that time, Chancellor was named the WNBA Coach of the Year three times (1997, 1998, 1999) and he led the franchise to the league’s first four titles. Under Chancellor’s direction, the Comets were the only team in the WNBA to make the playoffs in each of the first seven seasons of the league.

His 1998 Comets team still holds the record for highest winning percentage in the history of NBA and WNBA basketball with a 27-3 mark (.900).

In 10 years with the Comets, Chancellors’ teams posted a 211-111 record, which makes him the winningest coach in the history of the league. Chancellor had the distinction of coaching the Western Conference All-Star Team three times during his career and he was also named the coach of the WNBA’s All-Decade Team in June of 2006.

As head coach of the Comets, Chancellor produced the WNBA Most Valuable Player five times, the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year three times and the league’s most improved player twice.

Before his jump to the professional ranks, Chancellor spent 19 seasons at Ole Miss, developing the Lady Rebels into one of the nation’s premier women’s basketball programs. As the Ole Miss head coach, Chancellor guided the Lady Rebels to the NCAA Tournament 14 times, which included 11 consecutive appearances from 1982 to 1992.

In 19 years at Ole Miss, Chancellor’s teams won at least 20 games 15 times, including a school-record 31 wins in 1978-79. He also led the Lady Rebels to top 20 final rankings 13 times, with top 10 finishes four times (No. 5 in 1992,  No. 6 in 1985, No. 8 in 1987, and No. 10 in 1984).

Chancellor led Ole Miss to the Elite Eight at the NCAA Tournament four times, while his teams made the Sweet 16 on three other occasions.

Chancellor was named the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year three times, including the 1992 season when the Lady Rebels were 29-3 overall and claimed the league’s regular season title with a perfect 11-0 mark. That year, the Lady Rebels reached the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight before falling to Southwest Missouri State.

Chancellor played two years of basketball at East Central Junior College in Decatur, Miss., before transferring to Mississippi State, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in math and physical education in 1965.

He also entered the coaching ranks during his senior year at Mississippi State, serving as head coach of the boy’s basketball team at Noxapater High School. Chancellor went on to coach boy’s and girl’s basketball at Horn Lake High School and Harrison Central High School in Mississippi. Chancellor received his master’s degree in physical education from Ole Miss in 1973.

Born September 27, 1943, in Louisville, Miss., Chancellor and his wife, Betty, have two children, John and Renee, and four grandsons, Nicholas, Jacob, Joseph and Zachary.

A book published in the fall of 1999, “Nothin’ But a Champion,” chronicles Chancellor’s life from his childhood in Mississippi through his third WNBA Championship with the Houston Comets. In addition to his coaching duties, Chancellor has also spent time serving as a television analyst for women’s college basketball, working for both ESPN and SEC-TV.

Van Chancellor Press Conference


Opening Statement …
“This is a really exciting day for LSU athletics and for women’s basketball in particular. Today opens up a new chapter in the extraordinary experience that we have enjoyed here with the success of an extraordinary women’s basketball program. This is a great opportunity to see new leadership, to advance the great opportunities the student-athletes have to excel not only on the court but also in the classroom and around our communities in which we live.

“There is no finer, no more extraordinary a leader that we could have selected than an individual with a very strong track record who knows exactly what it takes to win and to bring out the greatest potential that our tremendous student-athletes on this campus have.”


Opening Statement …
“I am so thankful. This is an exciting day. This is such an honor for me personally. I want to say what a great job Pokey Chatman did as a player here and as a coach, what a valuable contributor she was to this program. I want to wish her the very best. To the staff that is here, (assistant coaches) Bob (Starkey), Christie (Sides), Carla (Berry), (director of basketball operations) Joe (Carvalhido), you guys did a great job. It was unbelievable to get this team to the Final Four. I am just honored that I am going to get to coach that team.

“For three months now I have played golf every day, 36 holes, 27 holes. Then I just got to thinking how I wanted another challenge. When I was the Ole Miss coach I went to Grambling and played, and they just buried one of the great Americans in this world, coach (Eddie) Robinson. And I saw him one day and I said, ?Coach, why in the world are you continuing to coach?’ And he said, ?Young man, I don’t coach for championships, I coach because I want to make a difference in young people’s lives.’ I do want to win a championship. But I wanted to come back and get on the college level so I could make a difference in young people’s lives, help them become better people.”

On if he feels pressure coaching this team …
“There is no pressure. I have one of the two best players in the country. I have great players right here in this room. If I didn’t have any players and you were expecting a lot, that would be tough. I came here knowing what the pressure would be.”

On if he believes he is the man who can lead the team past the Final Four …
“I don’t know that, but I hope I am. I don’t want to change much. I’m not going to get us anywhere. This team will get us there. My job is to make them get in that position and believe in themselves. I think we’re there. We just have to perform. If we can get there, we are going to perform because I think one of my assets is getting them in pressure games and getting them to relax a little bit.”

April 11, 2007


Opening statement…
“It is very rare to introduce somebody with Van’s credentials. It is pretty obvious that Van Chancellor knows how to win championships. I know he is looking forward to hanging some banners on the wall. He is loved and admired by the young women on our basketball team. It was as much their choice as any administrator for Van to be the coach. Van has spoken with all the girls here and spoke with Sylvia Fowles before she went to play abroad. Van appreciates the legacy of Sue Gunter. A lot of credit must go to Judy Southard. Being an NCAA committee chair is not something that is voted on. She had to earn it over a number of years. Judy has been on the NCAA Basketball Committee for a number of years and knows almost everybody in women’s basketball. It was easy for her to contact a dozen or so people about the job and made a selection I am very excited about.”


Opening statement…
“First thing I would like to do is thank Chancellor O’Keefe and Skip Bertman for giving me the responsibility in leading this search. It has been my privilege to serve in athletics for 37 years and for the past six years to be a part of the strong athletic tradition at LSU. Van Chancellor is a great fit for Baton Rouge, LSU and our women’s basketball program. There will be challenges ahead for the women’s basketball program, but with Van’s vast experience, work ethic, familiarity with the SEC and the nation’s elite programs and his engaging personality will be endearing for our student-athletes and fans.” 

“We began the coaching search very early in March and we started a working list of 11 individuals. We sought out those that were well-known in the game and people behind the scenes that are well-respected. We sought the opinions of fans, boosters, coaches and other administrators in the athletic community.  At every turn, we received nothing but positive comments about Van Chancellor. He was the leading candidate throughout the process. Last week, we were able to get him in and out of town without anybody knowing about it. He had a chance to visit with several key people and we all felt like this was the right choice for us.”

“Van Chancellor is the right person to lead us to the next level. His r?sum? is abundant with honors and accomplishments. His reputation is impeccable and his popularity on the national level is unquestionable. His vast array of contacts nationally will lend to his ability to recruit. As my good friend Pat Summitt said to me the day before yesterday, ?Judy, this guy can coach.’ At this time it is my pleasure to introduce the new LSU women’s basketball coach Van Chancellor.”