NEW ORLEANS -- New Orleans announced on Monday that head women’s basketball coach Amy Champion will step down from her coaching position to focus on the duties associated with serving as Director of Intercollegiate Athletics.

The head coach of the Lady Privateer basketball program since April 7, 2004, Champion became the institution’s third athletic director in less than a year when she added the role on an interim basis on April 16, 2010. 

The interim tag was removed on Oct. 14, 2010 with the endorsement of UNO Acting Chancellor Dr. Joe King and the LSU Board of Supervisors.

“When Division II membership emerged as the likely direction as we concluded our analysis, I realized this day may not be far behind it,” Champion said. “It is critical to our university that I step away from coaching to focus on the future of our department as we look towards Division II, adding sports and building a foundation for a nationally competitive program.”

To fill the vacancy she created, Champion announced that assistant Keeshawn Carter will take over the reins of the women’s basketball program in the position of interim head coach for the 2011-12 season.

The upcoming season will be Carter’s ninth as a member of the UNO coaching staff.

“Keeshawn knows everything about this university and brings stability to our program as we begin a transition to Division II,” Champion said. “She has earned this opportunity to fill the role of head coach in an interim capacity and knows that we will re-evaluate her role following the completion of the 2011-12 season.”

Carter’s tenure on the coaching staff began when she served in the capacity of a student assistant and graduate assistant for two years following her playing career. In 2003, she became the first full-time third assistant for the Lady Privateers during the summer of 2003. 

Carter will continue her lists of firsts as she becomes the first former UNO women’s basketball player to lead the program.

“It is an honor that is not taken lightly,” Carter said. “I am very excited about this opportunity and glad that it comes at my alma mater.”

A four-year letterwinner, Carter saw action in 100 contests and made 32 starts for the Privateers during her undergraduate years on the Lakefront. A Sun Belt Conference Academic Honor Roll selection during her time at UNO, Carter averaged 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per contest during her career, serving in the role of co-captain as a senior.

The 2011-12 basketball schedule is nearly complete, allowing Carter to focus predominantly on recruiting, in addition to filling out a staff.

“Over these first 30 days, I must solidify our staff, our team and finalize recruiting for 2011,” Carter said. “We have had recruits in for visits with several more visits scheduled.”

The UNO athletic program received approval to move forward with the transition to Division II last week by the NCAA. The university has intentions of competing in the Gulf South Conference during the 2012-13 season.