North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell resigned late Thursday night amid the school’s investigation over racist remarks allegedly made by the Hall of Famer.
Hatchell, 67, and assistant coaches Bett Shelby, Andrew Calder and Sylvia Crawley all had been on unpaid suspensions since April 1 in light of allegations regarding the program’s culture.
The investigation performed by a Charlotte-based law firm found that Hatchell did make racially insensitive comments and that she pressured players to compete while injured.
‘The review concluded that Hatchell is not viewed as a racist, but her comments and subsequent response caused many in the program to believe she lacked awareness and appreciation for the effect her remarks had on those who heard them,’ according to the university’s statement.
Athletic director Bubba Cunningham said in a statement, ‘The University commissioned a review of our women’s basketball program, which found issues that led us to conclude that the program needed to be taken in a new direction.
‘It is in the best interests of our University and student-athletes for us to do so. Coach Hatchell agrees, and she offered her resignation today. I accepted it.’
According to a previous report from the Washington Post, Hatchell allegedly told players they would be ‘hanged from trees with nooses’ if they failed to improve. The Post report cited interviews with seven people with knowledge of the investigation. Six of those interviewed were parents of players on the team.
Hatchell’s attorney, Wade Smith, denied the allegations during an interview with the Post.
‘She said, “They’re going to take a rope and string us up, and hang us out to dry,”‘ Smith said. ‘There is not a racist bone in her body.’
Hatchell said in a statement, ‘It has been the great honor and privilege of my life to coach at the University of North Carolina. I want to thank John Swofford for giving me my dream job 33 years ago. The University will always hold a special place in my heart.’
Hatchell led the Tar Heels to the 1994 national title plus eight Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championships and four ACC regular-season crowns. A two-time national coach of the year (1994, 2006), Hatchell was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.
She had a 751-325 record at North Carolina, where she became head coach in 1986-87. Adding in her 11 seasons as head coach at Francis Marion, she owns a 1,023-405 career mark.
In recent years, Hatchell’s program has been plagued by transfers and the specter of the long NCAA investigation into potential academic fraud across a number of sports at North Carolina. The NCAA issued its findings in October 2017 with no penalties assessed.
Cunningham expressed his gratitude to Hatchell in his statement.
‘We appreciate her 33 years of service to Carolina and to the community, and we wish her the best,’ read Cunningham’s statement. ‘Our focus now is on conducting a search for a new head coach who will build on our great Carolina traditions and promote a culture of excellence.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Alex Raskin, and Reuters