Longtime University of North Carolina head women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell has resigned following an investigation, the university announced on Friday.
A statement released by the university said that Hatchell, 67, had made “racially insensitive” comments and “questioned” the medical staff who treated her players.
“The University commissioned a review of our women’s basketball program, which found issues that led us to conclude that the program needed to be taken in a new direction. It is in the best interests of our University and student-athletes for us to do so,” UNC director of athletics Bubba Cunningham said, adding that Hatchell had offered him her resignation after 33 years with the team.
According to the university, the investigation conducted 28 interviews with players and other individuals connected to the women’s basketball program.
The investigation found that Hatchell made “racially insensitive” comments and “did not respond in a timely or appropriate manner” when confronted about them.
“The review concluded that Hatchell is not viewed as a racist, but her comments and subsequent response caused many in the program to believe she lacked awareness and appreciation for the effect her remarks had on those who heard them,” the statement read.
The New York Times reported that Hatchell allegedly said losing a game could lead to “nooses,” said her team played like “old mules” and “urged players to do a tomahawk chop war cry.” (A university spokesperson declined to confirm the report when contacted by PEOPLE.)
Additionally, the investigation found that medical staff associated with the team said they perceived pressure to clear members of Hatchell’s team to play before they were “medically ready.”
There was a “breakdown of connectivity between the players and Hatchell,” the investigation concluded.
In a statement following her resignation, Hatchell said, “It has been the great honor and privilege of my life to coach at the University of North Carolina … The University will always hold a special place in my heart.”
“The game of basketball has given me so much, but now it is time for me to step away,” she continued. “This is an idea I have been contemplating since my cure from leukemia. This year, after defeating Notre Dame, the top-ranked team in the country, and returning to the NCAA Tournament, our program is once again headed in the right direction and ready for new leadership.”
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