This academic year, it’s been difficult to stay positive about this university. Rising racial tensions and resignation after resignation in the administration kept the moral low, but what kept the student body united was UNC’s celebrated sports teams, led by some of the best coaches in their respective fields.
This has also been taken from us. In the first year that the UNC women’s basketball team made the NCAA Tournament since the 2014-2015 season, their head coach, Sylvia Hatchell, was accused of making racially offensive comments to her players and forcing them to play through injuries.
Last Monday, the UNC athletics department released a short statement that revealed that the coaching staff of the women’s basketball team, including Hatchell, would be placed on paid administrative leave due to "issues raised by student-athletes and others."
Later that week, The Washington Post interviewed six parents of current women’s basketball players and one other person who knew of the investigation. In the interview, the parents alleged that Hatchell said the players would get “hanged from trees with nooses” if they didn’t perform well in their upcoming game. She also made the players perform a "war chant" for an assistant coach with Native American ancestry, which some players also found offensive.
Hatchell also allegedly forced her players to perform in games through serious injuries, including dislocated shoulders and hyper-extended knees. To keep injured players in one game shows a despicable lack of regard for their wellbeing — that one game could jeopardize the rest of their college careers and beyond. Junior guard Emily Sullivan, who severely injured her shoulder in 2016, didn’t receive an MRI until three weeks after the injury, and continued playing. Senior player Hillary Fuller could not play because of a knee injury, and Sullivan needed to replace her.