CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – The Washington Post reported Thursday that North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell and her staff were suspended Monday due to an investigation into allegations that Hatchell made racially insensitive remarks and forced her players to compete through serious injuries.
The Washington Post cited interviews with “seven people with knowledge of the investigation, including six parents of current players.” The parents spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The Washington Post received an agenda for a meeting with UNC administrators in which two discussion items were “Medical Treatment and/or lack thereof” and “Racially inappropriate remarks or behavior.” That meeting was held on March 28, which was days before the coaching suspensions were announced.
Meeting attendees told the Washington Post that parents raised concerns about three players who reported feeling pressured by Hatchell to play despite injuries.
The Washington Post also reported that the Tar Heels’ Hall of Fame coach was accused of encouraging her players to take part in a “war chant” to “honor” the Native American heritage of an assistant coach.
UNC spokesperson Steve Kirschner issued a statement to CBS 17 on Thursday:
As we announced on Monday, we have a review underway to assess the culture of our women’s basketball program and the experience of our student-athletes. We will have no further comment until the review is complete and we have all the facts. Carolina is committed to the well-being of our student-athletes and to ensuring that they have the best experience possible and in and outside of competition.
Hatchell, who has been at the helm of the program for 33 years, released a statement Monday after the suspensions were announced:
I’ve had the privilege of coaching more than 200 young women during my 44 years in basketball. 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 I’ve coached and would do anything to encourage and support them. They are like family to me. I love them all.
Of course, I will cooperate fully with this review. I look forward to a prompt conclusion of this matter and the continuation of our very successful women’s basketball program.
Kirschner said Monday that Charlotte-based law firm Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein will conduct the review.