Sylvia Hatchell, University of North Carolina’s women’s basketball coach, is currently under investigation at the university for reportedly making racially insensitive remarks to players and pushing athletes to play through injuries, The Washington Post reports. Parents told the newspaper that Hatchell told players they would be “hanged from trees with nooses” if their performance didn’t improve before an upcoming game. Hatchell also reportedly pushed players to take part in a “war chant” to honor the Native American ancestry of assistant coach Tracey Williams-Johnson, even though Johnson was clearly made uncomfortable by the move. In addition, parents recalled that some players were pushed to play through serious injures, according to the Post. One player later learned she had torn a tendon in her knee, and another said Hatchell made her doubt she had suffered a concussion.
Earlier this week, the university announced it was putting Hatchell and her staff on paid leave. An outside law firm was reportedly hired by the university to investigate the claims. Hatchell reportedly declined to be interviewed, but her attorney said the comments Hatchell made were being misconstrued. “She said, ‘They’re going to take a rope and string us up, and hang us out to dry,’” lawyer Wade Smith told the Post. “There is not a racist bone in her body... A very high percentage of the people who have played for her and who love her are African-American women.”