Chatman's assistant told LSU about relationship

Updated: March 12, 2007, 7:33 PM ET
By Wright Thompson | ESPN.com

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Louisiana State University learned about former head women's basketball coach Pokey Chatman's alleged sexual relationship with a former player from one of Chatman's assistant coaches, multiple sources have told ESPN.com.

Carla Berry, who has been an assistant for the Lady Tigers since 1999, first reported the allegation to university officials outside the athletic department. After determining that no current players appear to be involved, the university made athletic department officials aware of Berry's allegation. Multiple sources within the LSU athletic department told ESPN.com that there is no evidence of inappropriate behavior with any current players.

Berry didn't respond to numerous requests for comment.

Chatman was not allowed to be alone with her players after Berry alleged improper conduct to the university, a school official with direct knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press on Monday.

The university reacted promptly and properly to Berry's allegations, said the official, who asked to remain anonymous because it was a personnel matter.

Berry's motivation for making the allegation to university officials isn't clear. One athletic department insider said that Chatman continued to seek advice from Berry, a longtime friend and colleague, as late as Thursday, the day after Chatman unexpectedly resigned her position as head coach. By then, the scandal was reaching critical mass.

Berry, 37, played guard at LSU for Sue Gunter from 1989 to 1992, and she joined Gunter's staff as an assistant coach in 1999. As LSU prepares for the NCAA Tournament -- pairings are to be announced Monday night -- Berry is still working as an assistant to interim head coach Bob Starkey.

Chatman abruptly stepped down Wednesday, saying she wanted to pursue other career opportunities.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune, citing university sources, reported Thursday that Chatman resigned after LSU officials discovered she allegedly had inappropriate conduct with players. Athletic director Skip Bertman told the newspaper that LSU did not conduct a formal investigation but that an informal investigation "might have happened."

Bertman did not respond to AP requests for an interview.

LSU board of supervisors spokesman Charles Zewe said it is LSU's policy never to discuss personnel matters. However, he said LSU would have made inquiries into any information it might have received about perceived inappropriate conduct.

"Without confirming any level of investigation, I can tell you LSU's actions in dealing with coach Chatman's resignation were above board, swift, decisive and thorough, and in the best interest of not only of the university but also the student-athletes on the LSU women's basketball team," Zewe said.

Chatman, who won 90 games in her first three seasons as head coach, has not been available for questions and has communicated only through written statements released by LSU.

LSU has agreed to pay Chatman according to her current $400,000-per-year contract -- including bonuses of as much as $70,000 should LSU advance to the Final Four -- until her resignation becomes official April 30, Zewe said.

Wright Thompson is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. He can be reached at wrightespn@gmail.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Wright Thompson | email

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
Wright Thompson (@wrightthompson) is a senior writer for ESPN.com and The Magazine. He has been featured in seven editions of Best American Sports Writing and lives in Oxford, Mississippi.

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