North Carolina Coach Sylvia Hatchell Resigns After Investigation

North Carolina Coach Sylvia Hatchell Resigns After Investigation


Sylvia Hatchell, the Hall of Fame women’s basketball coach at the University of North Carolina, has resigned less than three weeks after she was suspended amid a university-ordered investigation into her program.

The university announced the resignation Thursday night.

Ms. Hatchell had been accused of making racially insensitive remarks in front of the team. A lawyer for Ms. Hatchell has said his client’s words were misquoted or misconstrued.

But the university’s statement said the investigation, which included interviews with 28 people connected to the program, had concluded that there was “widespread support” to back up allegations that Ms. Hatchell had “made comments that were racially insensitive, and when confronted by players and staff did not respond in a timely or appropriate manner.”

The investigation also determined that players and members of the medical staff believed that Ms. Hatchell had tried to exercise undue influence over the treatment of injuries and had been perceived as pressuring injured athletes to play.

““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,” North Carolina’s athletic director, Bubba Cunningham, said in the statement. “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.”

Hatchell was also quoted in the statement. “The game of basketball has given me so much, but now it is time for me to step away,” she said, before referring to her bout with cancer that began in 2013. “This is an idea I have been contemplating since my cure from leukemia.”

After the final game of this season, the families of several players met with university officials to air concerns, according to people with knowledge of the meeting who requested anonymity because they feared retaliation if they spoke publicly. Within days, Ms. Hatchell and her assistants were put on paid administrative leave while a law firm conducted a review.

The future of the assistant coaches was not addressed in the statement.

A person with direct knowledge of the accusations told The New York Times that Ms. Hatchell had warned that a loss could lead to “nooses” for the players, had complained that her team played like “old mules” and had urged players to do a tomahawk chop war cry.

Ms. Hatchell, 67, coached at North Carolina for 33 seasons, was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013 and won the national title in 1994.

Recent seasons have been less successful. The team finished 18-15 this season and returned to the N.C.A.A. tournament for the first time in four years, losing in the first round.

Several highly regarded players have transferred out of the program in recent years, notably Diamond DeShields, who despite a strong freshman season moved on to Tennessee in 2014.



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