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BC-BKW--North Carolina-Program Review,1st Ld-Writethru

April 5, 2019
The attorney for North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell says players misconstrued comments she made as racist and she wouldn’t try to force someone to play without clearance from medical staff. Wade Smith made the comments Thursday to The Washington Post and The News & Observer of Raleigh. The school has placed Hatchell and her coaching staff on paid administrative leave amid player concerns while a law firm conducts a review of the program.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — The attorney for North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell says players misconstrued comments she made as racist and that she wouldn’t try to force someone to play without clearance from medical staff.

Wade Smith made the comments Thursday to The Washington Post and The News & Observer of Raleigh.

The school placed Hatchell and her coaching staff on paid administrative leave Monday amid player concerns while a law firm conducts a review of the program. The Post, citing unnamed parents of players, said complaints were about inappropriate racial comments and players being pushed to play while injured.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Smith says Hatchell “does not have a racist bone in her body” and “cares deeply about (players’) health and well-being.”

UNC hasn’t specified the concerns that sparked the review and says it won’t comment until the review is complete.

Hatchell, a 2013 Hall of Fame inductee, is the winningest women’s basketball coach in Atlantic Coast Conference history with a record of 1,023-405, including 751 wins at UNC with a national title in 1994.

The Tar Heels are coming off their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2015.

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