Sylvia Hatchell is reportedly under investigation for allegations over racist remarks, including telling her players they would be hanged from trees with nooses
Hall of Fame womens basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell is under investigation over allegations that she tried to force players to compete despite serious injuries and made a series of racially insensitive remarks, including telling her players they would be hanged from trees with nooses if they didnt improve, according to a Washington Post report published on Thursday citing seven people with knowledge of the probe.
Hatchells attorney, Wade Smith, said on Thursday that players misconstrued comments she made as racist and that she wouldnt try to force someone to play without clearance from medical staff.
The school placed Hatchell and her coaching staff on paid administrative leave Monday amid player concerns while a law firm conducts a review of the program. The Post, citing six unnamed parents of players, said complaints were about inappropriate racial comments and players being pushed to play while hurt.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Smith says Hatchell does not have a racist bone in her body and cares deeply about (players) health and well-being.
School spokesman Steve Kirschner said Monday in a statement that the review is due to issues raised by student-athletes and others. He did not specify what those issues were.
He said the university has hired a Charlotte-based law firm to conduct the review and assess the culture of the program. He said there was no timetable but added the review will be thorough and prompt.
In a statement on Monday, Hatchell said she will cooperate fully with the review.
Ive had the privilege of coaching more than 200 young women during my 44 years in basketball, Hatchell said. My goal has always been to help them become the very best people they can be, on the basketball court and in life.
I love each and every one of the players Ive coached and would do anything to encourage and support them. They are like family to me. I love them all.
Hatchell, a 2013 Hall of Fame inductee, is the winningest womens basketball coach in Atlantic Coast Conference history. She has a career record of 1,023-405 and is 751-325 mark in 33 years at UNC with a national title in 1994.
The 67-year-old icon became the third womens coach in Division I with 1,000 career victories in 2017, made her 23rd career NCAA tournament appearance last month and is the only coach with national championships at three levels AIAW, NAIA and NCAA.
She was diagnosed with leukemia in 2013, underwent chemotherapy through March 2014 and returned the following season to lead the Tar Heels to a 26-9 finish. The program also spent several seasons under the shadow of the schools multi-year NCAA academic case dealing with irregular courses featuring significant athlete enrollments across numerous sports, a case that reached a no-penalty conclusion in October 2017.
Hatchell received a contract extension in September 2016 that runs through the end of next season.
North Carolina went 18-15 this season with upsets of top-10 teams North Carolina State and defending national champions Notre Dame, who are playing in this weekends Final Four. The Tar Heels lost to California in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the first trip there since 2015.
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