Free Speech on Campus graphic

Women’s basketball coach resigns after being accused of racist comments — April 2019

Chapel Hill, NC

Coach Sylvia Hatchell was publically pressured to resign from coaching the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) women’s basketball team after players and their parents claimed she had made racially insensitive remarks in team meetings.

Key Players

Sylvia Hatchell coached UNC’s women’s basketball team for 33 years before announcing her resignation in early April 2019. In her career, Hatchell has amassed over 1,000 wins, the fifth-ranking all-time high in women’s college basketball history.

Further Details

Six players and their parents anonymously reported a comment Hatchell had made with a perceived reference to lynching. The remarks followed a January 2019 loss to Howard University. According to the Washington Post, Hatchell allegedly told the team some variation of “when you go to Louisville, if you perform like you did tonight, they’re going to have nooses outside the arena, and they’re going to hang you by your necks from trees” — although the reported wording differs among complainants. Students came forward amid additional reports of Hatchell forcing team members to continue playing, despite their being injured. The UNC athletic department conducted an internal review of the incidents and concluded that her reported comments were “racially insensitive.”

In a press conference on April 5, Hatchell’s counsel claimed that the comments were misrepresented and were not intended to be racist, stating “we must not suddenly assume the worst about people who have lived exemplary lives.” In the face of mounting public pressure, however, Hatchell resigned from her position as coach on April 19, although she remains employed by UNC, according to NPR.


Hatchell claims comments were ‘misconstrued’

While Hatchell did not fight the mounting pressure to resign, her lawyer maintained that she “does not have a racist bone in her body,” and that she was shocked at how quickly the community turned against her, given her track record of leadership and success in UNC and women’s athletics.

External References

UNC women’s basketball coach resigns after review finds she made ‘racially insensitive’

remarks, CNN

UNC Basketball Coach Sylvia Hatchell Resigns After Investigation, NPR

UNC women’s hoops coach Sylvia Hatchell resigns amid allegations of berating players, racial remarks, Washington Post

Rose Dallimore ‘22

Date uploaded to tracker May 21, 2019