Chancellor coached Comets since WNBA's inception

Updated: January 4, 2007, 1:05 AM ET
Associated Press

HOUSTON -- Van Chancellor, who led the Houston Comets to the first four WNBA championships, resigned on Wednesday as team owner Leslie Alexander was negotiating to sell the team to furniture magnate Hilton Koch.

Chancellor has coached the Comets since the league's inception in 1997. The Comets went 211-111 under Chancellor and made the playoffs in nine of 10 seasons.

"It was the best time for me to step aside," Chancellor said. "Let new ownership do what they want with the team."

At the news conference where Chancellor made his resignation official, Tad Brown, the CEO of the Houston Rockets, said the NBA team was in "a negotiating period with Hilton Koch." Alexander owns the Comets and Rockets.

Brown said he was hoping to have "something concrete" to announce within a week to 10 days.

Chancellor resigned on the same day that the Charlotte Sting folded. The Comets and Sting were two of the league's eight charter franchises.

His resignation was first reported by KRIV-TV in Houston.

The 63-year-old Chancellor led the U.S. Olympic team to the gold medal in Athens in 2004. He coached Mississippi for 19 seasons, guiding the Lady Rebels to a 439-154 record and 14 NCAA tournaments. A Mississippi native, he ranks 14th in career winning percentage among women's college coaches.

Led by Cynthia Cooper, Sheryl Swoopes and Tina Thompson, the Comets went 98-24 in their first four championship seasons. Cooper was named the league's most valuable player in 1997 and '98 and Swoopes was the MVP in 2000.

Cooper retired in 2001 and the Comets lost to Los Angeles in the first round of the playoffs that season. Swoopes missed most of the 2002 season with a broken ankle and Houston lost in the first round again.

The Comets missed the playoffs for the only time in 2004 and are 50-52 in their last three seasons.

Chancellor said he wasn't retiring, but would take three to four months to decide what he wanted to do next.

"I just wanted to see about going in another direction in my life," Chancellor said. "There comes a time when you have to decide about other things -- about your family, about your wife, about your children."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press