Home » Utah coach says her team had to switch hotels after racist attacks during NCAA Tournament

Utah coach says her team had to switch hotels after racist attacks during NCAA Tournament

by NBC News

University of Utah’s women’s basketball coach said her team was the target of a series of “racial hate crimes” after arriving in Idaho for the NCAA Tournament last week. The incidents prompted the team to change hotels for the sake of their safety, she said. 

Utah coach Lynne Roberts told reporters that the team of Black, white and Latina athletes experienced several incidents Thursday night after arriving in the Spokane area for the tournament where they faced Gonzaga University. Roberts didn’t go into detail about the incidents, but said they were concerning enough to request that they be moved from their hotel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to a location closer to Spokane. 

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

Roberts added that the NCAA and Gonzaga, the host school, worked to move the team to a different hotel. Neither Roberts nor the women’s athletics department immediately responded to a request for comment.

The Utah Utes celebrate after a basket against South Dakota State on Saturday.Steph Chambers / Getty Images

Utah’s deputy athletics director, Charmelle Green, who is Black, told KSL News of Salt Lake City that the team, along with band members and cheerleaders, were walking to a local restaurant for dinner when someone in a white truck drove up to the group, revved its engine, and yelled the N-word before speeding away.

“We all just were in shock, and we looked at each other like, did we just hear that?” Green said. “We kept walking, just shaking our heads, like, ‘I can’t believe that.’”

The team continued with the evening. Then, as they were leaving the restaurant, two trucks came near them, the drivers revved their engines and yelled the N-word. 


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