The saga in Chapel Hill is over. Sylvia Hatchell has resigned as head coach of the University of North Carolina’s women’s basketball program after an investigation into allegations of “racially insensitive” comments.
“Hatchell made comments that were racially insensitive, and when confronted by players and staff did not respond in a timely or appropriate manner,” UNC said, in a press release on Thursday. “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.”
One of the allegations centered around a comment the 69-year-old Hall of Famer made this January about hanging from nooses. Wade Smith, who represents Hatchell, claimed his client never used the word “noose” and that her comment had been about being “hung out to dry.”
Six of the seven people interviewed by The Washington Post for this investigation were parents of current and former players. All six parents wanted to remain anonymous in fear their daughters could receive retribution.
According to the lawyer, her exact words were “In the ACC, they are going to come after you with reckless abandon. They are going (to) string you up and hang you out to dry.”
Parents recall her phrasing it differently. One parent told The Washington Post the coach had said, “We’re going up to Louisville. Those people are going to be waiting with nooses to hang you from trees.”
Hatchell also got accused of trying to get players to “engage in a ‘war chant’ to ‘honor’ the Native American ancestry of an assistant coach,” who was “visibly uncomfortable,” according to two parents who had learned about the incident from their daughters.
On another occasion, after the team lost a game, Hatchell said they played like “old mules,” and that some people took that as a reference to female slaves.
Allegations were also made about Hatchell forcing players to play through injuries even when their health was at risk. One player eventually needed shoulder surgery while another player said the coach questioned her when she came to her about a concussion.
Hatchell finally broke her silence as she was resigning from her position as head coach.
“Now, I will turn my attention to supporting the University in different ways. 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,” she said.