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College basketball team subjected to hate rants


Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho

The 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 2024 NCAA Tournament. 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 on March 21 after arriving in the Spokane area for the tournament where they faced Gonzaga University. Roberts said the team requested they move from their hotel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to a location closer to Spokane,Wash. 

“Racism is real and it happens and it’s awful,” Roberts said. “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.

Utah’s deputy athletics director Charmelle Green told Salt Lake City’s KSL News 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.’”

Gonzaga University officials released a statement:

“Hate speech in any form is repugnant, shameful and must never be tolerated. We worked hard to secure the opportunity to serve as the host institution, and our first priority is and must be the safety and welfare of all student-athletes, coaches, families and supporting staff. To this end, we have worked closely with the NCAA and program participants to support the security and safety of everyone involved. 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.”