Racial Hate Crimes Target Utah Women’s Basketball Team in Idaho

Members of the Utah women’s basketball team, along with the cheerleading team and band, were subjected to racial hate crimes while in Idaho for the women’s March Madness tournament. The incidents occurred when the group was walking to a restaurant in Coeur d’Alene, approximately 35 minutes away from the tournament site in Spokane, Washington.

A white truck approached the team, revving its engine and hurling racial slurs at them before speeding away. The shocking incident left the entire group in a state of disbelief and shock. Utah’s deputy athletics director, Charmelle Green, who is Black, described the moment as freezing and incomprehensible. The same hateful encounter repeated itself as the group left the restaurant, this time involving two trucks. Green, overwhelmed by the situation, couldn’t hold back her tears.

The team subsequently moved to a hotel in Spokane, Washington, on Friday, seeking refuge from the distressing events. Green expressed her ongoing trauma, unable to forget the sound of the engine and the racial slur. She emphasized the importance of not having to relive those moments by staying in the same location.

Utah, seeded fifth, ultimately lost to fourth-seeded Gonzaga in the second round after defeating South Dakota State in the opening game. Head coach Lynne Roberts addressed the incidents, referring to them as racial hate crimes and expressing deep upset for the entire program. She highlighted the rarity of such occurrences in the world of athletics and university settings, where diversity is prevalent.

The lack of hotel space in the Spokane area led Utah, South Dakota State, and UC Irvine to stay in Idaho, despite Gonzaga being the host school. The city had previously been selected to host the first and second rounds of the men’s NCAA Tournament, along with a large regional youth volleyball tournament, resulting in limited hotel availability. Gonzaga received a waiver from the NCAA to accommodate teams in Coeur d’Alene.

Roberts acknowledged the efforts made by the NCAA and Gonzaga to relocate the team after the initial night. She expressed disappointment that what should have been a positive and joyous experience for the program was marred by these incidents. Gonzaga University issued a statement, emphasizing their commitment to the safety and well-being of all participants and expressing frustration and sadness over the compromised experience.

Author: CrimeDoor

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