At NCAA Tourney, 'Racial Hate Crimes,' Says Utah Coach

Lynne Roberts says her team had to change hotels after incidents in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2024 1:35 PM CDT
At NCAA Tourney, 'Racial Hate Crimes,' Says Utah Coach
Utah head coach Lynne Roberts directs her team during the first half of a second-round college basketball game against Gonzaga in the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Wash., Monday, March 25, 2024.   (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

Utah's women's basketball team had a more miserable experience at this year's NCAA Tournament than just their second-round loss to Gonzaga. "We had several instances of some kind of racial hate crimes towards our program," coach Lynne Roberts tells the Salt Lake Tribune. The team was staying in a hotel in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, because there was apparently no room at the inns in Spokane, Washington, where Gonzaga is located. Roberts didn't go into detail on what happened, but said the team changed hotels after one night.

"It was a distraction and upsetting and unfortunate," she says. Gonzaga released a statement afterward saying that "we are frustrated and deeply saddened" and that the actions "in no way reflects the values, standards and beliefs to which we at Gonzaga University hold ourselves accountable."

The AP notes that several far-right groups have established themselves in the region, with the Southern Poverty Law Center's list including Identity Evropa, Proud Boys, ACT for America, and America's Promise Ministries. "Racism is real and it happens, and it's awful. So for our players, whether they are white, black, green, whatever, no one knew how to handle it and it was really upsetting," Roberts says. "For our players and staff to not feel safe in an NCAA Tournament environment, it's messed up." (More NCAA women's basketball stories.)

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