Advertisement

Investigation Launched After Utah Women’s Basketball Team Was Forced To Change Hotels Due To Racial Harassment During NCAA Tournament

Investigation Launched After Utah Women’s Basketball Team Was Forced To Change Hotels Due To Racial Harassment During NCAA Tournament | Photo: Chris Gardner/Getty Images
Investigation Launched After Utah Women’s Basketball Team Was Forced To Change Hotels Due To Racial Harassment During NCAA Tournament | Photo: Chris Gardner/Getty Images

The FBI and law enforcement in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, launched an investigation after an NCAA women’s basketball team said they were racially harassed during their stay in the city. The Utah basketball team was staying in Idaho to compete in an NCAA tournament in Spokane, Washington.

Several teams were housed at hotels in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, approximately 30 miles from Spokane, due to high demand for accommodation. The Utah players said one of the incidents occurred on Thursday evening, which marked their first night.

They were walking over to a restaurant for dinner when someone in a white truck with a Confederate flag started yelling racial slurs, including the N-word. The person revved their engines before speeding off.

“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,” Charmelle Green, Utah deputy athletics director, told KSL.com.

As the team left the restaurant, they were met with the same truck, which was accompanied by another vehicle. They said both drivers revved their engines, yelled racial slurs, and followed them back to their hotel, according to MSNBC

Green said she started to cry as the incident happened and that she felt “numb the entire night” following the incident.

“I will never forget the sound that I heard, the intimidation of the noise that came from that engine, and the word (N-word),” Green said. “I go to bed and I hear it every night since I’ve been here. … I couldn’t imagine us having to stay there and relive those moments.”

The team’s safety became a pressing issue as their police escort was from Washington and had no jurisdiction over the incident. They were assisted by the NCAA and Gonzaga University, the host school, in moving to a hotel in Spokane.

“We are frustrated and deeply saddened to know that what should always be an amazing visitor and championship experience was in any way compromised by this situation, for it in no way reflects the values, standards, and beliefs to which we at Gonzaga University hold ourselves accountable,” the university said in a statement shared with KSL.com.

Utah head coach Lynne Roberts noted the incident as being “incredibly upsetting.”

“You think in our world, in athletics and the 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. And so when you are, it’s like, you have people say, ‘Man, I can’t believe that happened.’ But racism is real and it happens, and it’s awful,” she said on Monday night. “I think it happens a lot, and it doesn’t get talked about enough.”