Jim Quist @ACCTheQ
After 33 years of leading the North Carolina women’s basketball team it all ended Thursday for Sylvia Hatchell. The Hall of Fame coach tendered her resignation to Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham. This following a university commissioned review of the women’s basketball program. In an unusual move, the school released the announcement at 11:57pm ET.
Cunningham noted the review “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.”
A red flag appeared as six players transferred from the team over the last five years. There are four more who have entered the NCAA transfer portal. A number of players indicated that Hatchell had used racially insensitive remarks and pressured some to play through injuries. Hatchell’s attorney, Wade Smith, denied those allegations on behalf of his client at the time.
North Carolina responded to the issues at hand by suspending Sylvia Hatchell and three of her assistant coaches. The university engaged the law firm of Parker Poe to review the program.
Sylvia Hatchell Resigns
The review included interviews with 28 current players and program personnel. It concluded there was a “breakdown of connectivity”. In regard to racially insensitive remarks, Hatchell failed to address these issues “in a timely or appropriate manner”.
Hatchell is not viewed as a racist the report concluded. However, she may have been unaware or not have appreciated how her remarks effected others.
There was frustration among players and even medical staff about how Hatchell dealt with injury concerns. There was, according to the report, a “perceived and undue influence” by the coach. Ultimately, the review indicated that medical staff “did not surrender to pressure to clear players.”
Sylvia Hatchell Resigns
An extension of her contract in 2016 would have taken her through the coming season. Out of her 33 year career coaching the Tar Heels she missed one season, 2013-2014. Sylvia Hatchell stepped aside after a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia. She returned for the 2014-2015 season following aggressive chemotherapy. Hatchell took the Tar Heels to an amazing 23 NCAA tournaments during her tenure.
Hatchell issued this statement. “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. It has been the great honor and privilege of my life to coach at the University of North Carolina. The game of basketball has given me so much, but now it is time for me to step away.”
Jim Quist is Managing Editor of ACC Nation, a member of FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) and ACSMA (Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association). He is enrolled in the Beer Brewer Professional Certificate program at the University of Richmond. Follow him on Twitter @ACCTheQ.