April 17, 2024

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The head coach of the Utah State women's basketball team says he changed hotels after experiencing racism

The head coach of the Utah State women's basketball team says he changed hotels after experiencing racism

Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports/Reuters

Utah's Alyssa Bailey dribbles against South Dakota State.


Utah women Basketball The team was forced to switch hotels after experiencing what head coach Lynn Roberts called “racist hate crimes” before the first one occurred NCAA tournament Game.

According to Roberts, the team was staying at a hotel in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, last week when the events occurred. This was before a first-round game against South Dakota State in Spokane, Washington, about 30 miles away.

“We have had several instances of some type of racist hate crime toward our program, and it has been very disturbing to all of us,” Roberts told reporters Monday.

“There's a lot of diversity on campus, so you don't experience that very often… Racism is real,” she added. that happens. terrible. So for our players, whether they were white, black, green or whatever, no one knew how to deal with it. “It was really annoying.”

Utah beat South Dakota State on Saturday before losing to Gonzaga 77-66 in the second round of the tournament on Monday. CNN has reached out to Utah State and Gonzaga for further comment.

Young Kwak/AP

Roberts instructs Utah players against Gonzaga.

Details of the alleged racist incidents are unclear, but Gonzaga said they may have been derogatory comments.

After them, Roberts said the Utes switched hotels after just one night before their games in Spokane.

“For our players and staff to not feel safe in the NCAA Tournament environment, which is chaotic, so we moved hotels,” she explained.

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“The NCAA and (host university) Gonzaga worked to get us into a new hotel and we appreciate that. That's what happened. It was a distraction, it was annoying and it was unfortunate.”

“This should be a positive thing for everyone involved. This should be an exciting time for our program. To get kind of a black eye with this experience is unfortunate.”

Spokane was also a previously scheduled site for the first two rounds of the men's tournament. With the women's teams at Utah, UC Irvine and South Dakota State remaining in the area, hotel space was limited.

After eliminating some men's teams, the NCAA and Gonzaga offered Utah and UC Irvine the opportunity to move into vacant hotel rooms in Spokane, a source familiar with the situation told CNN.

The source added that because Utah and UC Irvine were based in Idaho, Gonzaga arranged for a police escort to ensure the drive time to the venue did not exceed approximately 30 minutes, a requirement for being able to host after receiving a top award. -16 seeds.

Young Kwak/AP

Players and staff on Utah's bench look up to Gonzaga.

After these two teams were transferred to Spokane hotels, police escort continued to be provided for them, according to the source.

Gonzaga He said She is aware of “racially offensive comments” made by visiting players, adding: “Hate speech in any form is abhorrent, shameful and should never be tolerated.

“We have worked hard to secure the opportunity to serve as a host organization, and our first priority is and must be the safety and well-being of all student-athletes, coaches, families and support staff.”

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The NCAA said Tuesday it has worked with Gonzaga and Utah to provide additional security for the Utes until new accommodations are arranged in Spokane.

“The NCAA condemns racism and hate in any form and is committed to providing a world-class athletics and academic experience for student-athletes that promotes lifelong well-being,” she said in a statement. “NCAA Championship events represent the pinnacle of a student-athlete's career. We were devastated by the experience of the Utah team traveling to compete on what should have been a weekend competing on the brightest stage and creating some of the most treasured memories of their lives.

The organization thanked local law enforcement for their quick response and “efforts to keep student-athletes safe.”

Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little did not provide any details but called the incidents “the abhorrent and unacceptable actions of a few” that Idahoans cannot allow to “tarnish our state.”

“Idaho leaders and community members at all levels have been consistent and clear about our values ​​— we absolutely reject racism in all its forms,” he said in a statement. “We condemn bullies who seek to harass and silence others. I will continue the tradition of former Idaho governors in supporting our local leaders in their efforts to eradicate hate and bigotry in our communities.

CNN's David Close and Wayne Sterling contributed to this report.