Utah Basketball Team Forced To Move Hotels After Experiencing 'Racial Hate Crimes'

"Racism is real. And it happens. And it's awful," said University of Utah coach Lynne Roberts.

The University of Utah women’s basketball team had to change hotels last week during the NCAA Tournament after experiencing what coach Lynne Roberts described as “several instances of ... racial hate crimes.”

Due to a lack of hotel space in Spokane, Washington, where they were playing, the team was staying in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho ― roughly 35 minutes away.

While there, a truck approached the group as they were walking to dinner, and someone inside yelled the N-word before revving the engine and driving off. The incident took place Thursday night.

“Racism is real. And it happens. And it’s awful,” Roberts told reporters Monday. “And so, for our players, whether they are white, Black, green, whatever — no one knew how to handle it. It was really upsetting.”

Utah deputy athletics director Charmelle Green, who is Black, told KSL.com the team “was in shock.” She also shared that on the walk home from dinner, two trucks approached the team and engaged in the same behavior.

“I will never forget the sound that I heard, the intimidation of the noise that came from that engine, and the word,” Green said. “I go to bed and I hear it every night since I’ve been here. ... I couldn’t imagine us having to stay there and relive those moments.”

Roberts said they were able to move to a hotel in Spokane after alerting tournament officials. While she appreciated the efforts of the NCAA and Gonzaga University, the host school, after the fact, Roberts clearly thinks they could’ve done more.

“For our players and staff to not feel safe in an NCAA Tournament environment is messed up,” she said, adding, “It was a distraction, and upsetting and unfortunate.”

Gonzaga condemned the incident in a statement late Monday night, calling the behavior “repugnant, shameful and must never be tolerated.”

“We are frustrated and deeply saddened to know that what should always be an amazing visitor and championship experience was in any way compromised by this situation, for it in no way reflects the values, standards, and beliefs to which we at Gonzaga University hold ourselves accountable,” the statement said.

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