Van Chancellor
Van Chancellor at the 2005 Women's Final Four in Indianapolis.
Biographical details
Born (1943-09-27) September 27, 1943 (age 80)
Louisville, Mississippi, U.S.
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1965–1967Noxapater HS
1967–1973Horn Lake HS
1973–1978Harrison Central HS
1978–1997Ole Miss
1997–2006Houston Comets
2002–2004United States
Head coaching record
Overall530–195 (NCAA)
211–111 (WNBA)
Accomplishments and honors
Basketball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2007 (profile)
Women's Basketball Hall of Fame
Medal record
Coach for Women’s Basketball
 United States (head coach)
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 2004 Athens Team
FIBA World Championship for Women
Gold medal – first place 2002 China Team

Van Winston Chancellor (born September 27, 1943) is an American former college and professional basketball coach. He coached University of Mississippi women's basketball, Louisiana State University women's basketball, and the professional Houston Comets.[1] He was named head coach of the Lady Tigers on April 11, 2007, replacing Pokey Chatman. In 2001, Chancellor was elected to the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame, located in Knoxville, Tennessee.[2] He was enshrined as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September 2007.[3] Chancellor currently serves as an analyst for Southland Conference games on ESPN3.

Early years

Chancellor played two years of basketball at East Central Junior College in Decatur, Mississippi, before transferring to Mississippi State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics & physical education in 1965.

During his senior year at Mississippi State, he served as head coach of the boys' basketball team at Noxapater High School. Chancellor went on to coach boys' and girls' basketball at Horn Lake High School and Harrison Central High School in Mississippi. He received his master's degree in physical education from the University of Mississippi in 1973.

Coaching career

Ole Miss

Chancellor spent 19 seasons (1978–1997) as the head coach of the University of Mississippi Rebels, compiling an overall record of 439–154 (.740). As the Ole Miss head coach, Chancellor guided the Rebels to the NCAA tournament 14 times, including 11 consecutive appearances from 1982 to 1992.

Chancellor's teams won at least 20 games 15 times, including a school-record 31 wins in 1978–1979. He also led the Rebels to top 20 final rankings 13 times, with top 10 finishes four times (#5 in 1992, #6 in 1985, #8 in 1987, and #10 in 1984).

Chancellor led Ole Miss to the Elite Eight at the NCAA tournament four times, while his teams made the Sweet 16 on three other occasions. Chancellor was named the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year three times, including the 1992 season when the Rebels were 29–3 overall and claimed the SEC regular season title with a perfect 11–0 mark. He was also named the 1992 National Women's Basketball Coach of the Year by the Women's Basketball News Service.

Houston Comets

When the Women's National Basketball Association started with eight expansion teams in 1997, Chancellor had applied for six of the teams with doubt that he would be hired. However, he was hired by the Comets (as owned by Leslie Alexander, part of the plan for certain teams to be operated by NBA owners), to coach the team, and he believed that the team would be special from the very get go due to the talents of Cynthia Cooper (who had led USA to a gold medal in the 1988 Olympics and silver in 1992 while playing in European leagues) in practice. Houston was bolstered by fellow player allocation Sheryl Swoopes (who had led Texas Tech to the 1993 NCAA title) and WNBA draft pick Tina Thompson to make a Big Three trio, all of whom would be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.[4] The 1997 season did not go without hitches, as Thompson and Cooper wanted less rigid patterns from Chancellor when it came to offensive sets, which they responded by setting ball screens on the perimeter; Swoopes did not play until the second half of the season due to her pregnancy. They won four of their first seven games before closing out the season on a 14-7 run to finish 18-10, the best record of the eight teams; in the four-team playoff, they won both games (including a 65-51 victory over the New York Liberty, who had beaten Houston three out of four times in the regular season) to win the inaugural WNBA championship. To build chemistry, he set up a three-player committee composed of a young player, a mid-level player, and an older player. Chancellor cited the help of NBA coach Rudy Tomjanovich in asserting the importance of training camp and the nature of motivating college players.[5]

In the 1998 WNBA Championship, now a best-of-three series, the Comets lost a nail-biting Game 1 to the Phoenix Mercury. In Game 2, the Comets trailed by 12 with seven minutes remaining, and Chancellor called time-out. Trying to get the words out, point guard Kim Perrot (considered the "stick of dynamite" of the team) took over to speak to the team, with Cooper and Thompson later citing her rallying speech as the moment that got the team back on track. The Comets rallied to force overtime before winning the game.[6] In Game 3, they won by nine to clinch their second title. The 1999 season, wracked with emotional turmoil due to the diagnosis of lung cancer for Perrot (which led to her passing on August 19), saw them go 26-6 before they rolled to a third straight title with four playoff wins to two losses. 2000 was their most dominant playoff run, despite the fact that a 27-5 record was not enough to be first in the league. They swept their first-round opponent to have a key matchup with the Los Angeles Sparks, who had only lost four games all year. They swept the Sparks in two games to meet up against New York. In the 2000 WNBA Championship, they beat the Liberty 59–52 and 79–73 (overtime) to clinch their fourth league championship. They were the first basketball team to win four straight league titles since the Boston Celtics in the late 1960s and the first four-peat since the 1980-1983 New York Islanders.[7]

Cooper retired after the 2000 season ended, and Swoopes missed the 2000 season with an Anterior cruciate ligament injury. Their playoff dominance ended with their first playoff loss (in a straight two-game sweep) to the Sparks in 2001. Cooper briefly returned in 2003. They lost in the first round two more times before they missed the playoffs in 2004 with a 13-21 record, Chancellor's only losing season as coach. They won one postseason series after the 2000 season ended.

Under Chancellor, the Comets were the only team in the WNBA to make the playoffs in each of the first seven seasons of the league. His 1998 Houston Comets team holds the record for highest winning percentage in the history of both the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Women's National Basketball Association (NBA) basketball with .900 when the Comets went 27–3. In 10 years with the Houston Comets, Chancellors’ teams posted a 211–111 record (.655), making him the winningest coach in the history of the WNBA. Chancellor was named the WNBA Coach of the Year three times (1997, 1998, 1999) He coached the Western Conference All-Star Team three times during his career and was named the coach of the WNBA's All-Decade Team in June 2006.

During his time as head coach of the Comets, Chancellor also served as a television analyst for women's college basketball, working for both ESPN and SEC-TV. In the fall of 2006, Alexander announced the sale of the Comets.[8] On January 3, 2007, Chancellor resigned.[9]

USA Basketball

Chancellor served as coach in international competition for the United States National Team. His teams won first place at the 2002 Opals World Challenge, a gold medal at the 2002 FIBA World Championships, and a gold medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics.

Chancellor served as the head coach to the National team in the 2002 World Championships, held during September in three cities in China, including Nanjing, China. The USA won the opening six preliminary rounds easily, with no contest closer than 30 points. That included the opening round game against Russia, who has played them close at the 1998 Championship final. In the opening game, the USA won 89–55 behind 20 points form Lisa Leslie and 17 from Sheryl Swoopes. The USA wasn't seriously challenged in the quarterfinals, where they beat Spain by 39 points. The semifinal game against Australia was closer, but Leslie had a double-double with 24 points and 13 rebounds to help the USA team win by 15 points. In the championship game, much like the 1998 finals, the rematch was much closer. This time the USA team did not have to play from behind, and they had a ten-point lead late in the game, but the Russians cut the lead to a single point with just over three minutes remaining. The game remained close, and it was within three points with just over twelve seconds to go, but Swoopes was fouled and sank the free throws to give the USA a 79–74 win and the gold medal.[10] Chancellor went 38–0 for team USA.

LSU Lady Tigers

In his first year as head coach at LSU, Chancellor led the Lady Tigers to an SEC championship game and to the Final Four. He was also named 2008 SEC Coach of the Year.[11] Chancellor resigned on March 16, 2011. He spent the rest of his contract as an assistant to Athletic Director Joe Alleva. Chancellor spent four seasons at LSU.[12]

Post-coaching career

Chancellor continued his work as a color commentator after retirement, working Southland Conference games on ESPN's family of networks. In 2022, he joined Houston Baptist University as a color commentator for its men and women's basketball home games. [13]

Personal life

Chancellor is married to Betty and they have 2 children and 4 grandsons.[14]

Head coaching record

Ole Miss Rebels

Year Record Notes
1978–79 31–9 AIAW State Tournament champions
1979–80 23–14
1980–81 14–12
1981–82 27–5 NCAA First Round
1982–83 26–6 NCAA Second Round
1983–84 24–6 NCAA Second Round
1984–85 29–3 NCAA Elite Eight
1985–86 24–8 NCAA Elite Eight
1986–87 25–5 NCAA Sweet Sixteen
1987–88 24–7 NCAA Sweet Sixteen
1988–89 23–8 NCAA Elite Eight
1989–90 22–10 NCAA Sweet Sixteen
1990–91 20–9 NCAA First Round
1991–92 29–3 NCAA Elite Eight
1992–93 19–10
1993–94 24–9 NCAA Second Round
1994–95 21–8 NCAA First Round
1995–96 18–11 NCAA First Round
1996–97 16–11

Houston Comets

Year Record Playoff record Notes
1997 18–10 2–0 WNBA Champions
1998 27–3 4–1 WNBA Champions
1999 26–6 4–2 WNBA Champions
2000 27–5 6–0 WNBA Champions
2001 19–13 0–2
2002 24–8 1–2
2003 20–14 1–2
2004 13–21
2005 19–15 2–3
2006 18–16 0–2

USA Basketball

Year Team Event Record Finish
2002 U.S. National Team WBCA All Star Challenge 1–0
2002 U.S. National Team Opals World Challenge 4–0 1st Place
2002 U.S. National Team FIBA World Championships 9–0 Gold Medal
2004 U.S. National Team Pre-Olympics Exhibition Games 16–0
2004 U.S. National Team Olympics 8–0 Gold Medal

LSU Lady Tigers

Year Team Record Notes
2007–2008 LSU 31–6 (14–0 SEC) SEC Regular season champions; SEC Tournament Runner-Up; NCAA Final Four
2008–2009 LSU 19–11 (10–4 SEC) SEC Tournament Semifinals; NCAA Second Round
2009–2010 LSU 21–10 (9–7 SEC) SEC Tournament Quarterfinals; NCAA Second Round
2010–2011 LSU 20–14 (8–8 SEC) SEC Tournament Quarterfinals; did not make NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Tournament

See also


  1. ^ "Van Chancellor Bio @". Archived from the original on August 8, 2018. Retrieved October 12, 2007.
  2. ^ "WBHOF Inductees". WBHOF. Archived from the original on December 6, 2017. Retrieved August 1, 2009.
  3. ^ "Van Chancellor – 2007 Naismith Hall of Fame Inductee". Archived from the original on August 8, 2018. Retrieved February 29, 2008.
  4. ^ "In the WNBA's Early Days, Houston's Comets Came Around Every Year". May 14, 2021.
  5. ^ "WNBA excellence – Coach van Chancellor".
  6. ^ "The Heart of the Comets: The Story of Kim Perrot".
  7. ^ "Cooper's career ends with 4th crown". Houston, TX: ESPN. AP. August 26, 2000. Retrieved March 13, 2023.
  8. ^ "Houston's Comets, the rise and fall of the WNBA's first dynasty". October 18, 2016.
  9. ^ "COMETS: Van Chancellor Resigns as Head Coach of Houston Comets".
  10. ^ "FOURTEENTH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FOR WOMEN – 2002". USA Basketball. Archived from the original on May 25, 2013. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  11. ^ "Chancellor, Fowles Receive SEC's Top Annual Honors". Archived from the original on September 7, 2017. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  12. ^ Bill Feig (March 16, 2011). "LSU women's basketball coach Van Chancellor steps down, accepts assistant to AD position". Retrieved October 29, 2011.
  13. ^ "MBB: Huskies and Islanders Clash on Saturday". (Press release). Houston Baptist University. February 25, 2022.
  14. ^ "Van Chancellor". Retrieved December 2, 2023.