After 18 days of investigation into alleged racist remarks made to her players, North Carolina women's basketball head coach Sylvia Hatchell has resigned from her position, the UNC athletics department announced late Thursday night.
According to a release from the athletics department, the investigation by Charlotte-based firm Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein found three main themes from 28 interviews of current players and personnel that were causes for concern.
First, "Hatchell made comments that were racially insensitive, and when confronted by players and staff did not respond in a timely or appropriate manner," the release said.
It also reported "players and medical staff expressed frustration with perceived and undue influence from Hatchell regarding medical issues and pressure to play," as well as "a breakdown of connectivity between the players and Hatchell."
With those three main themes in mind, Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham decided the program would move on from Hatchell after concerns about her conduct were raised earlier in April.
“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. It is in the best interests of our University and student-athletes for us to do so,’’ Cunningham said. “Coach Hatchell agrees, and she offered her resignation today. I accepted it. We appreciate her 33 years of service to Carolina and to the community, and we wish her the best. Our focus now is on conducting a search for a new head coach who will build on our great Carolina traditions and promote a culture of excellence.”
Hatchell, a 2013 Naismith Hall of Famer, took over the program in 1986, leading the Tar Heels to a national championship in 1994. At the conclusion of her 33rd season, an investigation was launched on April 1 to review the program. All coaches within the program were placed on paid administrative leave at that time.
The Washington Post reported on April 4 that Hatchell had previously said that her players would get "hanged from trees with nooses" in their next game if their performance did not improve. Hatchell also reportedly attempted to have her players participate in a "war chant" to "honor" the Native American ancestry of an assistant coach.
The Washington Post report also raised concerns about the treatment of injured players and how their recovery process was handled, something that was addressed in the investigation. The Charlotte-based law firm found that although some players were frustrated with "medical issues and pressure to play," the "medical staff did not surrender to pressure to clear players before they were medically ready."
The news of Hatchell's resignation comes just a day after UNC signed four-star guard Kennady Tucker to a national letter of intent. It is not yet known how this news might affect the incoming class of recruits who were expected to step onto campus next fall.
As part of the release, the athletics department reaffirmed its commitment to the well-being of its student-athletes and "to ensuring that they have the best experience possible in and outside of competition."
The University issued a series of statements on behalf of Hatchell in the release about her resignation, with Hatchell calling it "a bittersweet end."
“It has been the great honor and privilege of my life to coach at the University of North Carolina. I want to thank John Swofford for giving me my dream job 33 years ago," Hatchell said. "The University will always hold a special place in my heart."
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