2009 LSU Athletics Hall of Fame Inductee
2005 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee
2005 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame Inductee
2003 WBCA Regional Coach of the Year
2003 Louisiana Coach of the Year
2003 Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame Inductee
2002 Louisiana Coach of the Year
2000 Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee
1999 SEC and Louisiana Coach of the Year
1999 WBCA District III Coach of the Year
1997 SEC Coach of the Year
1994 Carol Eckman Award Winner
1983 Basketball News National Coach of the Year
1983 Converse Region IV Coach of the Year
1983 Louisiana Coach of the Year
1980 United States Olympic Team Head Coach
The late Sue Gunter, a 2005 inductee into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, will always be remembered as not only one of the greatest coaches in women’s basketball history, but also as a pioneer in the game. Gunter passed away on Aug. 4, 2005.
Gunter, who became the third women’s coach in history to reach 700 career victories with a win over Arkansas on Feb. 12, 2004, has been with women’s basketball on the collegiate level every step of the way and has seen the sport evolve from a novelty back in the early 1960s to present day, where the Final Four is sold out years in advance and games are shown nightly on national television.
Gunter, who was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in June 2000, completed her career among the leaders in several NCAA coaching categories: seasons coached (No. 1 – 40); games coached (No. 3 – 1,016); wins (No. 3 – 708); and 20-win seasons (No. 4 – 22).
Gunter’s influence was a catalyst behind the growth of the game and things were no different in Baton Rouge as the Lady Tigers continue to play before school-record crowds and media attention is at an all-time high. In Gunter’s 22-year tenure at LSU, her list of accomplishments are long and impressive — 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, one trip to the Final Four, four NCAA Elite Eight appearances, eight NCAA Sweet 16 appearances, two SEC Tournament titles, a Women’s NIT title, and a handful of Coach of the Year awards.
Sue Gunter — The Coach
Sue Gunter brought the LSU women’s basketball program back to national prominence. After a three-year hiatus in the mid-1990’s that saw the Lady Tigers suffer through the school’s first-ever losing seasons, LSU returned to the post-season, and in Gunter’s final year as head coach in 2003-04, advanced to the program’s first NCAA Final Four.
To realize just how far the Lady Tigers have come, one has to go back to the 1994-95 season, the worst year in school history as LSU posted a 7-20 overall mark. Strangely enough, it was the 1994-95 season that proved to be the turning point for the Lady Tigers as Gunter turned up her recruiting magic and promptly signed the best class in school history. That class, which included future All-SEC selections in Elaine Powell, Pietra Gay and Toni Gross, won 46 games over two years and resurrected the LSU women’s basketball program. The Lady Tigers now won an average of 22.5 games per season under Gunter since the 1994-95 campaign, include a then-school record 30 wins in 2002-03.
Her final season was undoubtedly one of Gunter’s finest on the court. The Lady Tigers won 27 games, finished second in the SEC with a 10-4 mark, received a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament’s West Region and advanced past Austin Peay, Maryland, No. 1 seed Texas and Georgia to reach the program’s first Final Four right down the road in New Orleans. Gunter coached in her 1,000 game on Jan. 25, 2004 and recorded her 700th career victory later in the season against Arkansas. Sophomore Seimone Augustus earned Kodak All-American honors and was the Louisiana Player of the Year.
The 2002-03 season was a record-breaking one. The Lady Tigers posted 30 wins, the most for a Gunter led team, tied the school record with 11 SEC victories, won the SEC Tournament title, earned the school’s first NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed, advanced to the Elite Eight for the third time in school history and finished the season as the No. 3 ranked team in the nation. Individual honors also racked up for the Lady Tigers. Gunter was named the Louisiana Coach of the Year and the Regional Coach of the Year by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and on Jan. 16 she won her 400th game as LSU head coach at home against Kentucky. Seimone Augustus was the consensus National Freshman of the Year, while she joined Temeka Johnson as an All-American.
The success of the 2002-03 team also put a record number of people in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center. LSU averaged 4,457 paid attendance in the PMAC, the 19th best average in the nation and almost triple the amount from years past for the Lady Tigers. Another attendance record was shattered during the year as 15,217 fans paid to see No. 3 LSU battle No. 2 Tennessee in the PMAC on Feb. 23, marking the fourth largest crowd to see a basketball game (men’s of women’s) in the PMAC and the largest women’s crowd to see a game in the state of Louisiana. The year ended with Gunter being inducted into her home state of Mississippi’s Sports Hall of Fame.
The 2001-02 season was one of Gunter’s toughest in terms of having to overcome adversity. LSU lost three players to knee injuries during the season and all-American DeTrina White was out for the year with foot problems, but the Lady Tigers managed to win 18 games despite playing most of the season with seven healthy players. LSU and Gunter won the heart of the nation by making it to the championship game of the SEC Tournament and the second round of the NCAA Tournament with the “Magnificent Seven.”
The 1999-2000 season was special for Gunter as well. Not only did she directed the Lady Tigers to a 25-7 mark, including a berth in the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight, where LSU fell to eventual national champion Connecticut, but she posted her 600th career victory on Jan. 13, 2000, at Arkansas. The year was culminated in June with her induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Knoxville, Tenn.
The 1998-99 season may have been one of Gunter’s best on the bench as she took a team with only one senior to a 22-8 overall mark and a second-place finish in the SEC. After being picked to finish eighth in the SEC, the Lady Tigers won a then school-record 10 league games, including a win over top-ranked Tennessee, and reached the Sweet 16 at the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years. As a result, Gunter was named SEC Coach of the Year by both her peers and the Associated Press. She was also named the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association District 3 Coach of the Year.
In 1997-98, the Lady Tigers, after losing one of the best senior classes in school history, advanced to the Women’s NIT semifinals before falling to Baylor. LSU beat a couple of top 10 teams at home and one of the season highlights came on Jan. 18 when the Lady Tigers shattered the school’s then single-game attendance record for Pack the PMAC II when 7,255 fans showed up to see LSU beat Ole Miss, 69-56.
The 1996-97 season was perhaps the most rewarding for Gunter in all her years of coaching as she was named the SEC Coach of the Year for the first time after leading the Lady Tigers to a 25-5 overall mark and a berth in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16. LSU finished the year ranked No. 9 in the nation in the AP poll and the Lady Tigers had a then school-record nine SEC wins, which included victories over Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn and two over Arkansas. In addition, Gunter proved that women’s basketball could become a hit in Baton Rouge as fans flocked to see the Lady Tigers in record fashion as LSU broke every school attendance record that year.
The success of the 1996-97 team was a direct result of what happened to LSU in 1995-96. The 1995-96 team posted the biggest turnaround in SEC history, posting a 21-11 record after going 7-20 the year prior. However, the season proved to be bitter sweet for LSU as the Lady Tigers were denied a spot in the 64-team NCAA Tournament despite beating second-ranked Georgia in the SEC Tournament the week prior to the tournament selection. LSU did advance to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) where they finished third after pounding Arkansas in the third place game.
Prior to the turnaround in 1995-96, the three years prior were tough on both Gunter and the Lady Tigers. But there were some bright spots. Despite posting a 7-20 mark in 1995, Gunter won the 500th game of her career on Feb. 9 when the Lady Tigers routed Jackson State, 92-62. In that same game, LSU’s Cornelia Gayden set an NCAA record by hitting 12 3-point goals.
Gunter was also admired by her peers that despite LSU’s losing record in 1994, she was still honored that year as the recipient of the Carol Eckman Award. The award goes to the coach that shows spirit, integrity and courage in coaching women’s basketball.
In 1993, Gunter and the Lady Tigers suffered through their first losing season ever as LSU fell to 9-18 overall and 0-11 in the SEC. Gunter called that season the most trying in her career.
In 1992 the Lady Tigers slipped to 16-13 overall and 4-7 in the SEC. During the 1991-92 campaign, the Lady Tigers made a late season push to make the NCAA Tournament, however, their hopes were dashed after Tennessee beat LSU in the final seconds during the second round of the SEC Tournament.
The 1991 season was one of firsts for the Lady Tigers and Gunter as they captured their first SEC Tournament title by defeating eventual national champion Tennessee, 80-75, in the finals. Also during that season, LSU defeated Louisiana Tech for the first time since 1978, defeated Auburn for the first time since 1984 and, for the first time in her career, Gunter defeated both Stephen F. Austin and Tennessee.
The Lady Tigers finished the 1991 season with a 24-7 record and ranked No. 8 in the final AP poll, while point guard Pokey Chatman earned Kodak All-America honors.
During her silver anniversary year of coaching in 1989, Gunter collected her 400th career victory with a win over the University of Pacific. Also during that season, the Lady Tigers posted a 19-11 record and advanced to the Midwest Regional of the NCAA Tournament. In the second round of the NCAAs, Gunter led LSU to a come-from-behind win over Purdue, before losing to Louisiana Tech. With one of the nation’s toughest schedules in 1989, Gunter’s team once again surprised critics by defeating four Top 10 teams with only one senior on the squad.
Gunter became the winningest coach in LSU women’s basketball history during the 1987 season surpassing Jinks Coleman. During that season, Gunter led the Lady Tigers to their fifth 20-plus win season with a 20-8 mark and a No. 14 ranking in the final AP poll.
The 1986 season was probably one of the most satisfying for Gunter as the Lady Tigers posted a 27-6 record and appeared in the SEC title game. However, a trip to the Final Four that season was denied with a 67-65 loss to Tennessee in the Mideast Regional Finals.
During the 1985 season, Gunter led the Lady Tigers to a 20-9 record and to the school’s first women’s national title, the WNIT, as LSU defeated Florida in the title game.
Gunter’s 1984 team started the season with then a school-record 12 straight wins and appeared in the NCAA Tournament for the first time. The Lady Tigers finished the season ranked No. 8 in the nation and it also ended the brilliant career of the SEC’s second leading scorer Joyce Walker.
The 1983 season marked Gunter’s first year at LSU and she led the Lady Tigers to a 20-7 record and a No. 20 national ranking in the AP Poll. The inaugural season marked the beginning of a bright future for both Gunter and the Lady Tigers, who finished in a first-place tie in the SEC Western Division that year. As a result, Gunter was named National Coach of the Year by Basketball News, received the Converse Region IV coaching honor, and was chosen the top coach in the state by the Louisiana Sportswriters Association.
Gunter completed her career as the third winningest women’s basketball coach in history with an overall record of 708-308, which included coaching stints at Middle Tennessee, Stephen F. Austin and LSU. Gunter’s LSU record was 442-221, which makes her the winningest coach in school history.
Under the direction of Gunter, the Lady Tigers played in 14 NCAA Tournaments, one National Women’s Invitational Tournament and two WNIT events. Gunter led LSU to one Final Four in 2004, and to the Elite Eight in 1986, 2000 and 2003, while leading the Lady Tigers to a championship at the National Women’s Invitational Tournament in 1985. In addition, Gunter directed LSU to 14 20-plus-win seasons, including one 30-win season.
Prior to her arrival in Baton Rouge, Gunter had a very successful coaching stint at Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, Texas. While at SFA, Gunter built that program into a national powerhouse as she led the LadyJacks to a 266-87 mark in 12 years as head coach. In addition, she led Stephen F. Austin to four top 10 national rankings, which included No. 5 final rankings in 1979 and 1980. While at Stephen F. Austin, Gunter coached four sports – women’s basketball, softball, tennis and track. Her basketball teams went to five Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) playoffs, won four state titles and earned a regional crown.
After 16 seasons at SFA, she relinquished the reigns and moved into the position of Director of Women’s Athletics where she served two years before returning to the coaching ranks at LSU.
Gunter began her coaching career at Middle Tennessee State where she led the Blue Raiders to undefeated seasons in both of her years there.
Sue Gunter — International Coach
Sue Gunter’s impressive coaching credentials did not end with her contributions to the college game as she has also played a big part in the success of the United States in women’s basketball on the international level.
In 1980, Gunter was selected as the head women’s basketball coach for the United States Olympic Team. Gunter guided her team to the title at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament prior to the Olympics. However, Gunter and her team were denied a chance at a gold medal due to the United States’ boycott of the Olympic Games, which were held in Moscow, that year.
Gunter did taste success at the Olympics, however, as she was an assistant coach on the 1976 U. S. Team which captured the silver medal in Montreal.
Gunter has also served as head coach for the U.S. National Team three times, as she led those squads in 1976, 1978 and 1980.
Sue Gunter — Off The Court
Gunter received her Bachelor and Master’s degrees in 1962 from Peabody College in Nashville, Tenn. She followed that with post-graduate work at Texas Women’s University.
A fine player in her own right, Gunter played AAU basketball for Nashville Business College from 1958-62 earning AAU All-America honors. She was also a member of the 1960-62 United States teams that competed against the Soviet Union.
Gunter was also very active in many community service areas throughout Baton Rouge. She played an active role in the Baton Rouge Area Lupas Foundation and served as the honorary chairperson for the Walk for Alzheimer’s in Baton Rouge. Gunter was also a finalist for the 1997 YWCA Women of Achievement Award, which recognizes the top women in the Baton Rouge community for contributions to their field.
Years at LSU: 22
Overall Record: 708-308 (40 years)
LSU Record: 442-221 (22 years)
Hometown: Walnut Grove, Miss.
Born: May 22, 1939
Alma Mater (Year): Peabody College (1962); Masters – Peabody College (1962)
Played guard for Nashville Business College (AAU) from 1958-62, earning All-America honors in 1960
Member of U.S. National Team, which competed against the Soviet Union from 1960-62.
Collegiate Coaching Experience:
Head coach Middle Tennessee State 1963-64
Head coach Stephen F. Austin 1965-80
Head coach LSU 1983-2004.
International Coaching Experience:
Head Coach 1976 U.S. National Team
Assistant Coach 1976 U.S. Olympic Team (silver medal)
Head Coach 1978 U.S. National Team
Head Coach 1980 U.S. National Team
Head Coach 1980 U.S Olympic Team.
- Silver medal in 1976 Olympics
- Won Olympic Qualifying Tournament in 1980
- Converse Region IV Coach of the Year in 1983
- Basketball News National Coach of the Year in 1983
- Louisiana Coach of the Year in 1983
- Women’s NIT Champions in 1985, SEC Tournament Champions in 1991
- Recipient of Carol Eckman Award in 1994
- SEC Coach of the Year in 1997 and 1999
- Louisiana Coach of the Year in 1997
- WBCA District III Coach of the Year in 1999
- Inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in 2000
- Two-time Louisiana Coach of the Year (2002 and 2003)
- WBCA Regional Coach of the Year in 2003
- Third winningest head coach in NCAA history with 708 career victories
- Inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005
Gunter’s Coaching Record
|1972-73||21||6||.778||SFA||AIAW National Tournament|
|1973-74||27||7||.794||SFA||AIAW National Tournament|
|1974-75||32||8||.800||SFA||AIAW National Tournament|
|1976-77||28||6||.824||SFA||Ranked No. 9 in final AP Poll|
|1977-78||25||14||.641||SFA||Ranked No. 14 in final AP Poll|
|1978-79||30||5||.857||SFA||Ranked No. 5 in final AP Poll|
|1979-80||27||6||.818||SFA||Ranked No. 5 in final AP Poll/AIAW National Tournament|
|1982-83||20||7||.741||LSU||Ranked No. 20 in final AP Poll|
|1983-84||23||7||.767||LSU||First NCAA Tournament/Ranked No. 8 in final AP Poll|
|1985-86||27||6||.818||LSU||NCAA Elite Eight/Ranked No. 9 in final AP Poll|
|1986-87||20||8||.714||LSU||NCAA Sweet 16/Ranked No. 14 in final AP Poll|
|1988-89||19||11||.633||LSU||NCAA Sweet 16|
|1989-90||21||9||.700||LSU||NCAA Tournament/Ranked No. 23 in final AP Poll|
|1990-91||24||7||.774||LSU||NCAA Tourney/SEC Tourney Champs/No. 8 in final AP Poll|
|1994-95||7||20||.259||LSU||500th career win vs. Jackson State|
|1995-96||21||11||.656||LSU||SEC Tournament semifinalist/3rd at NWIT|
|1996-97||25||5||.833||LSU||NCAA Tournament Sweet 16/Ranked No. 9 in Final AP Poll|
|1997-98||19||13||.593||LSU||Women’s NIT Semifinalist|
|1998-99||22||8||.733||LSU||NCAA Sweet 16/2nd place in SEC/Ranked No. 21 in Final AP Poll|
|1999-00||25||7||.781||LSU||NCAA Elite 8/3rd place in SEC/Ranked No. 8 in Final ESPN poll|
|2000-01||20||11||.645||LSU||NCAA Tournament/Ranked No. 17 in Final AP Poll|
|2001-02||18||12||.600||LSU||NCAA Tournament/Ranked No. 23 in Final AP and ESPN Polls|
|2002-03||30||4||.882||LSU||NCAA Elite 8/SEC Tourney Champs/No. 3 (AP) and No. 5 (ESPN)|
* Gunter’s career seasons is correctly listed as 39 years, but the NCAA does not recognize two years at Middle Tennessee State and her first four at Stephen F. Austin because of a lack of accurately kept results.
NCAA Winningest Women’s Basketball Coaches:
1. Pat Summitt, Tennessee 821
2. Jody Conradt, Texas 815
3. Sue Gunter, LSU 681
4. Vivian Stringer, Rutgers 674
Most NCAA Women’s Basketball Games Coached:
1. Jody Conradt, Texas 1,082
2. Pat Summitt, Tennessee 984
3. Sue Gunter, LSU 981
Most NCAA Women’s Basketball Seasons Coached:
1. Jody Conradt, Texas 34
2. Sue Gunter, LSU 33
3. Kay Yow, North Carolina St. 31
Most NCAA 20-win seasons Coached:
1. Jody Conradt, Texas 27
2. Pat Summitt, Tennessee 27
3. Vivian Stringer, Rutgers 23
4. Sue Gunter, LSU 21
5. Rene Portland, Penn State 21