Sylvia Hatchell resigns as UNC women’s basketball coach
After an investigation by a Charlotte law firm found “widespread support for” allegations of racially insensitive comments and pressure to play through injury, Sylvia Hatchell resigned on Thursday as head coach of the University of North Carolina women’s basketball team.
Hatchell, a 2013 Hall of Fame inductee, is the winningest women’s basketball coach in Atlantic Coast Conference history. She has a career record of 1,023-405 and is 751-325 mark in 33 years at UNC-Chapel Hill with a national title in 1994.
Hatchell became the third women’s coach in Division I with 1,000 career victories in 2017, made her 23rd career NCAA Tournament appearance last month and is the only coach with national championships at three levels — AIAW, NAIA and NCAA.
But allegations by, according to the university, “student-athletes and others,” led to Hatchell’s suspension April 1. She and her entire staff were put on paid leave while the university contracted with Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein to review the culture within the program.
In announcing Hatchell’s resignation on Friday just after midnight, UNC Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham said, “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. 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.”
The review found support for allegations of “comments that were racially insensitive” that led “many in the program to believe she lacked awareness and appreciation for the effect her remarks had on those who heard them.”
It also found “frustration” from players and UNC medical staff that “with perceived and undue influence from Hatchell regarding medical issues and pressure to play.”
Parents of players who spoke anonymously to The Washington Post said that remarks made by Hatchell included a comment that her players would be “hanged from trees with nooses” if their performance did not improve.
According to The Washington Post, Hatchell was also accused of encouraging her players to engage in a “war chant” to “honor” an assistant coach’s Native American ancestry.
In a statement released along with the news of her resignation, Hatchell wrote, in part:
She concluded,“I will forever love the University of North Carolina. I am Sylvia Hatchell, and I am a Tar Heel.”