According to The Washington Post, North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell has denied making threats and racially insensitive remarks to her current players. Hatchell was recently accused of telling players that they would get “hanged from trees with nooses” unless their gameplay improved. Its also been reported by parents that Hatchell pushed her athletes to compete even when injured.
Via the Washington Post, “four of the team’s 14 current players have indicated their intention to transfer, and two others are considering other options if Hatchell keeps her job,” due to the recent allegations. However, Hatchell and her attorney Wade Smith continue to deny all reports.
Smith stated, “She said, ‘They’re going to take a rope and string us up, and hang us out to dry.” He argues that the players and parents misinterpreted the message Hatchell provided. Smith continued on in giving Hatchell a glowing character reference.
“There is not a racist bone in her body,” he added. “A very high percentage of the people who have played for her and who love her are African-American women. She is a terrific coach, and a truly world-class human being.”
According to The News & Observer, Hatchell regrets using the word “hang” in her delivery but that she never used the words “lynch” or “noose” in the controversial sentence. Hatchell also denies forcing players to compete while injured.
However, this hasn’t stopped UNC from placing Hatchell and three of her assistants on administrative leave during the time of the investigation. Hatchell intends to fully cooperate with the ongoing investigation.
Hatchell has coached UNC since 1986 and had an overall record of 18-15 this past season before getting eliminated in the NCAA tournament. As for her players, she stated “I love them all,” but the love reciprocated back is now in question.