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Utah coach says team was shaken after experiencing racist hate during NCAA Tournament

via March Madness
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Utah women’s basketball team

via Guardian Sports

The Utah women’s basketball team experienced multiple incidents of racism during their stay in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho for the NCAA Tournament. While walking between their hotel and a restaurant, team members were harassed by occupants of a pickup truck flying a Confederate flag who used racial slurs, including the N-word.

Several instances

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“We had several instances of some kind of racial hate crimes toward our program and (it was) incredibly upsetting for all of us,” Utah coach Lynne Roberts said. “In our world, in athletics and in university settings, it’s shocking. There’s so much diversity on a college campus and so you’re just not exposed to that very often.”

Returned with others

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Later the same evening, the same individuals returned with others and revved their engines while yelling at the players.

In shock

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The incidents left the team feeling unsafe and in shock.

Did we just hear that

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“We all just were in shock, and we looked at each other like, did we just hear that? … Everybody was in shock — our cheerleaders, our students that were in that area that heard it clearly were just frozen,” Utah deputy athletic director Charmelle Green said.

Police are investigating

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Police are investigating but housing teams so far from game sites in another state was criticized for contributing to the situation.

Yet to be determined

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“Until we get all the facts and the investigation is complete, what charges might actually be brought against the perpetrators is yet to be determined,” stated Tony Stewart, a Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations official.

Lynn Holzman

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“That review would include the first four, first and second rounds and also an evaluation of the two-site regional format,” NCAA Vice President for Women’s Basketball Lynn Holzman said. “We want to look at the preliminary rounds of the championship and with the growth we’ve had the last few years I think we should move up that review to start in 2024.”

Racial harassment

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The NCAA acknowledged the need to review tournament housing policies to ensure safety and prevent racial harassment of student-athletes in the future.

We are devastated

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“We are devastated about the Utah team’s experience while traveling to compete on what should have been a weekend competing on the brightest stage and creating some of the fondest memories of their lives,” the NCAA said.

Continue to heal

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“As we continue to heal, we remain very disappointed in the decision to assign our team to hotels such a great distance from the competition site, in another state,” Utah athletic director Mark Harlan stated. “We will work with NCAA leadership to make it clear that being so far removed from the site was unacceptable and a contributing factor to the impact of this incident.”

Racism is real

via March Madness

“Racism is real and it happens, and it’s awful. So for our players, whether they are white, Black, green, whatever, no one knew how to handle it and it was really upsetting,” Roberts said. “For our players and staff to not feel safe in an NCAA Tournament environment, it’s messed up.”

No place for racism

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Idaho Gov. Brad Little stated, “There is no place for racism, hate, or bigotry in the great State of Idaho. We condemn bullies who seek to harass and silence others.”

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