LSU acknowledges Chatman probe, praises assistant

NEW ORLEANS -- LSU confirmed Thursday that assistant women's basketball coach Carla Berry reported the alleged improper conduct that led to Pokey Chatman's resignation.

"I commend coach Berry for her actions, including her disclosure to coach Chatman of her knowledge of the allegations and the action she had taken," said Judy Southard, LSU's senior associate athletic director and senior woman administrator. "Having been a teammate and assistant to coach Chatman for many years, this has been no easy task for Carla."

In a joint statement, Southard and university Chancellor Sean O'Keefe offered the school's first official public comments on the resignation of Chatman, who was seeking to coach in her fourth straight Final Four before stepping down last week.

The school's inquiry ended when Chatman resigned, senior associate athletic director Herb Vincent said.

The No. 12 Lady Tigers, led by assistant coach Bob Starkey, are scheduled to play North Carolina-Asheville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.

Berry first reported the allegations to university officials in February, shortly after learning of the alleged incidents, Southard said. Berry then told Chatman about her role in the inquiry after the Southeastern Conference tournament in early March.

The university's investigation led to a March 7 meeting with Chatman's representatives, according to the statement, which resulted in Chatman's decision to resign at the end of the season.

But when the 37-year-old Chatman met with the women's basketball staff the next day to discuss if she should continue to coach the team, she decided to quit immediately, according to LSU.

"Any allegation pertaining to the [coach-athlete] relationship calls into account the trust the university and parents place in the coaches of sports teams," O'Keefe said. "It is a fundamental principle that coaches are caretakers and surrogate parents to the student-athletes.

He said no current players were involved and would not identify the former player involved in the allegations.

"We acted responsibly to encourage a resolution of this unfortunate situation. In that regard, coach Chatman made the right decision" by resigning, O'Keefe said.