Bertman: "Gunter a wonderful human being"

The LSU community is in mourning as legendary Lady Tiger basketball coach Sue Gunter passed away early Thursday.

Gunter, 66, was forced into retirement during the Lady Tigers run to the 2004 NCAA Final Four. She succumbed to lung disease at 8:30 Thursday morning at her Baton Rouge home.

A pioneer in women's college basketball circles, Gunter touched the lives of thousands during her 40-plus years of coaching.

"She touched a lot of lives," said LSU athletic director Skip Bertman. "She was a wonderful lady. A wonderful human being."

Gunter has been ill most of the past two years since she left the bench. After spending a long period of time in the hospital over the last few months, reports were she was improving. However, her battle with emphysema ended Thursday.

"Being that she was so sick over the summer, this still comes as a shock," Bertman said. "She was just out last week eating lunch with friends."

Today's Baton Rouge Advocate featured a story about Lady Tiger coach and Gunter protégé Pokey Chatman and her and her staff's recruiting efforts this summer. Bertman said Chatman was out of town at the time of Gunter's passing, but has since returned.

"Pokey turned around from California," Bertman said. "She is back here now. We know nothing about details right now, but I know the coaches and the girls are devastated."

Gunter career spanned 40 seasons, 22 at LSU, and included 708 victories. She is widely regarded as one of the most notable pioneers of the women's game.

"It is sad time for us at LSU," Bertman said. "People don't realize she coached in more games than any other women's coach. She is fourth in wins. A legend."

Gunter consistently fielded strong teams, reaching the Elite Eight three times. In her final season, cut short by illness, the Lady Tigers reached the program's first-ever Final Four.

"It was good that she was able to watch the trips to the Final Four the last two years and enjoy the fruits of her labor," Bertman said. "I remember tears in her eyes her last (full) year when the building was full and the fire marshal shut the place down against Tennessee. It was wonderful to see a dream fulfilled."

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