Utah WBB Changes Hotels Due to Racist Incidents and Safety Concerns at NCAA Tournament, Coach Reports

The Utah women’s basketball team switched hotels due to safety concerns before their first NCAA Tournament game, following reports of racist slurs being directed at the team. This was confirmed by Utes coach Lynne Roberts and a police report filed in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

The team played games on Saturday and Monday in Spokane, Wash., hosted by Gonzaga. They arrived at their hotel in Coeur d’Alene, about 30 miles east of Spokane, on Thursday. The alleged incidents took place while the team was walking to and from dinner that night.

According to a statement from Roberts, Utah athletic director Mark Harlan, and Deputy A.D. Charmelle Green, a truck revved its engine and someone shouted the N-word at the team while they were walking to dinner. After dinner, around 6 p.m. local time, two pickup trucks sped past the team members, revving their engines. The trucks then turned around and individuals inside shouted the N-word at the team.

In response to the incident, Utah coordinated with the NCAA and Gonzaga to move to a hotel in Spokane on Friday. “For our players and staff to not feel safe in an NCAA Tournament environment, it’s messed up, and so we moved hotels,” Roberts said.

Coeur d’Alene police chief Lee White confirmed that there is an ongoing investigation into the incident. Detectives are seeking video evidence from the route where the incident occurred and are working with the FBI.

Utah’s season ended with a 77-66 loss to Gonzaga in the second round Monday. The team expressed disappointment in being assigned to hotels far from the competition site and pledged to work with NCAA leadership to address this issue.

The NCAA provided increased security for Utah until a new hotel was available in Spokane. The organization expressed devastation about the Utah team’s experience.

UC Irvine’s women’s basketball team also began the week in Coeur d’Alene. The university stated that its team was not involved in the restaurant incident but requested to move for the safety and wellbeing of their student-athletes and travel party.

Gonzaga expressed frustration and sadness over the situation, stating that hate speech in any form is repugnant and must never be tolerated. The university emphasized that their first priority is the safety and welfare of all student-athletes, coaches, families, and supporting staff.

Source: theathletic.com

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