Warnings that players would be “hanged from trees with nooses” and forcing players to compete despite potentially serious injuries are among the accusations levied against legendary North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell, according to a Washington Post report.
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The university has put Hatchell and her entire coaching staff on paid leave while it conducts an investigation into the allegations following a meeting with a group of parents last Thursday.
The details of that meeting weren’t made public, but the Post based its report on “interviews with seven people with knowledge of the investigation, including six parents of current players.”.
The Post reports three players felt they were pressured to play through injuries, while others described racially inappropriate comments by Hatchell.
The “noose” remark, according to six parents who spoke to their daughters about it, occurred this season after a game against Howard, a historically black university. North Carolina won handily, 85-63, but Hatchell was displeased with the team’s play and in the locker room after the game, according to the six parents, warned of the consequences of a similar performance a few days later at Louisville.
The parents differed on the precise wording … (but) were unanimous that their daughters heard the words “noose” and “tree.”
Hatchell’s attorney, Wade Smith, told the Post the comments attributed to her were misunderstood.
North Carolina issued a statement Thursday that said the school would not comment until its review is completed.
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Hatchell, 67, is one of six women’s basketball coaches to accumulate over 1,000 career wins. She took over the women’s team at UNC in 1986 and led the Tar Heels to a national title in 1994, as well as Final Four berths in 2006 and 2007.
She was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.