Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer has agreed to a five-year contract extending through the 2001-02 season.
The contract ends speculation that VanDerveer, who has talked with "five or six different teams" in the CBA, ABL and WNBA, might leave Stanford after this season.
The contract was rewritten to replace VanDerveer's open-ended contract that automatically renewed each year. Financial terms were not disclosed.
One reason for Tuesday's announcement was to eliminate speculation about VanDerveer's future and allow the Cardinal to focus on its quest for a third NCAA championship.
"I didn't want any speculation to distract the team," VanDerveer said. "I'm really glad it worked. I'm glad we talked about what's important to me."
What appealed to VanDerveer and Stanford was the chance to take the team "to the next level." The next level, VanDerveer said, does not necessarily translate into on-court success.
VanDerveer is looking beyond wins and losses. Some of her ideas germinated during her year with the U.S. national team that won Olympic gold last summer.
With the support of Stanford, VanDerveer wants to start an academy to help develop coaches, particularly female coaches, and get her team more involved in the community, in part by conducting clinics for underprivileged youngsters.
Louisiana State starting forward Keia Howell, the team's third-leading rebounder and best interior defender, has been lost for the post-season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in Monday's second-round win over Marquette.
Howell was averaging 5.5 rebounds. The injury comes two years after she suffered an identical injury to her left knee, which also required reconstructive surgery.
"She's been a clutch player whether it be a steal, a key rebound or a basket," coach Sue Gunter said.
The Tigers face No. 2-ranked Old Dominion in Saturday's regional semifinals.
_ TIMES WIRES