Sylvia Hatchell, the University of North Carolina’s longtime head women’s basketball coach, has resigned after a review, commissioned by the school, which found she made “racially insensitive” comments.
The school’s athletics director and other officials announced the news on Thursday (April 18) and claimed Hatchell wielded “undue influence” regarding the players’ medical issues and pressured them to play. One of the winningest coaches in women’s college basketball history allegedly suggested her players would be “hanged from trees with nooses” if they didn’t improve their play.
Hatchell’s attorney, Wade Smith, told The Washington Post his client said she would never use the word “noose” and that her comment was about being “hung out to dry.” In a university-issued statement about her resignation, Hatchell said she is grateful she was able to have her “dream job” she began 33 years ago.
"Now, I will turn my attention to supporting the University in different ways,” the statement reads. “I will continue to raise money for the Lineberger Cancer Center, to establish a ministry of exercise and recovery for cancer patients and to push for equal facilities and treatment for women's athletics.”
On April 1, UNC announced they had put Hatchell on leave and commissioned a review of her comments. According to 28 current players and personnel connected to the program there was "a breakdown of connectivity between the players and Hatchell."
The findings "led us to conclude that the program needed to be taken in a new direction," Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham said Thursday. "Coach Hatchell agrees, and she offered her resignation today. I accepted it."
The “noose” comment allegedly came after a December 28 game against Howard, a historically Black college. The review cited six parents who spoke to their daughters about the incident.
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