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Sylvia Hatchell resigns as UNC women’s basketball coach following result of investigation

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Bubba Cunningham announced that all parties believe it’s in the best interest of UNC for Hatchell to step down.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament - Notre Dame vs UNC Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Following an almost three-week review of the UNC women’s basketball program, the University of North Carolina announced Thursday night that head coach Sylvia Hatchell resigned after agreeing, according to AD Bubba Cunningham, that it was in the best interest of her players. The commissioned review found credibility in the allegations that Hatchell made racially insensitive remarks and also put pressure on players to play injured.

Twenty-eight interviews of players and personnel were conducted, and the Charlotte-based firm Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein found “widespread support” that Hatchell committed the following transgressions.

From UNC’s press release:

1. Hatchell made comments that were racially insensitive, and when confronted by players and staff did not respond in a timely or appropriate manner. The review concluded that Hatchell is not viewed as a racist, but her comments and subsequent response caused many in the program to believe she lacked awareness and appreciation for the effect her remarks had on those who heard them.

2. Players and medical staff expressed frustration with perceived and undue influence from Hatchell regarding medical issues and pressure to play. Despite Hatchell’s questioning of player care, status and readiness, the medical staff did not surrender to pressure to clear players before they were medically ready.

3. There has been a breakdown of connectivity between the players and Hatchell.

Hatchell also released the following statement regarding her resignation:

“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. The University will always hold a special place in my heart.

The game of basketball has given me so much, but now it is time for me to step away. This is an idea I have been contemplating since my cure from leukemia. This year, after defeating Notre Dame, the top-ranked team in the country, and returning to the NCAA Tournament, our program is once again headed in the right direction and ready for new leadership.

Wonderful UNC memories remain — none more special than our 1994 national championship, three Elite 8s and nine ACC championships. I’ve been fortunate to coach more than 200 young women, and it has been a joy to see them grow into successful teachers, doctors, lawyers, mothers, high school and college basketball coaches, and WNBA players. The opportunity to play a small role in their success is the greatest joy of coaching-- and of my life.

I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to my assistant coaches and staff for their loyalty and support. They are remarkably talented and accomplished individuals who helped pave the way for our success as a nationally-acclaimed program. The championships we won would not have been possible without their contributions.

While this is a bittersweet day, my faith remains strong. After the fight of my life with leukemia, I count every day as a blessing. I am grateful that God granted me more days on this earth to continue my calling as a coach. I have always believed that we are blessed so we can bless others. My goal has been to plant enough seeds to reap a good harvest. Today, I can truly say that my harvest has been abundant.

Now, I will turn my attention to supporting the University in different ways. I will continue to raise money for the Lineberger Cancer Center, to establish a ministry of exercise and recovery for cancer patients and to push for equal facilities and treatment for women’s athletics. I currently have a proposal pending before the NCAA Gender-Equity Task Force to increase the number of former female basketball players in coaching.

I will forever love the University of North Carolina. I am Sylvia Hatchell, and I am a Tar Heel.”