BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- LSU women's basketball coach Pokey Chatman, who twice took the Lady Tigers to the Final Four after taking over as head coach in 2004, unexpectedly announced her resignation Wednesday.
"I have notified the university today that I will step down as head coach of the women's basketball program in order to allow me to pursue other career opportunities," Chatman said in a prepared statement that did not give details about those other opportunities.
The 35-year-old Chatman said she would stay with the team through the upcoming NCAA tournament and will be under contract until April 30.
"To eliminate any further distraction from our preparation for and participation in the NCAA tournament, I will have no further comment and answer no questions on this subject," she added.
Michael Bonnette, a sports information director at the school, confirmed the resignation and said it was unexpected. "I was stunned," Bonnette said.
"We respect the decision that Pokey Chatman has made regarding her future career opportunities," Athletic Director Skip Bertman said in a news release. "On behalf of LSU, I thank her for her athletic accomplishments as a player and as a coach, and for the community service work she has performed for Baton Rouge and Louisiana."
LSU officials said the media was not permitted to contact any of Chatman's current players until further notice.
The Lady Tigers, currently ranked tenth in the nation, are 26-7 this season after losing to Vanderbilt on Sunday night in the Southeastern Conference tournament championship game.
Chatman is 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 cancer. That included a trip to the Final Four in New Orleans, where the Lady Tigers fell in the semifinals to Tennessee.
Her decision to leave came as a surprise in light of her long ties to LSU and her never before indicating publicly that she was dissatisfied with her job.
Chatman, a Louisiana native, has been at LSU as both a player and coach for nearly 18 years.
Playing 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.
LSU won SEC regular-season titles in her first two seasons as a head coach and made it to the Final Four last season.
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 Connecticut, both earn more than $1 million per year.
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