Coach reveals shocking reason Utah women’s basketball team moved hotels during tournament


Utah Women basketball The team had to change hotels after experiencing what coach Lynne Roberts called “racial hate crimes” before their first game. NCAA Tournament game.

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

“We had several instances of some type of racial hate crimes toward our program, and (it was) incredibly disturbing for all of us,” Roberts told reporters Monday.

He added: “There is so much diversity on a college campus and that's why you're not exposed to it very often… Racism is real. Happens. It is awful. So for our players, whether they're white, black, green or whatever, no one knew how to handle it. “It was really disturbing.”

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

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

Following them, Roberts said the Utes changed hotels just one night before their games in Spokane.

“For our players and staff not to feel safe in an NCAA tournament environment is a disaster, so we moved hotels,” he explained.

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

“This should be positive for everyone involved. This should be a joyous moment for our program. “To have a black eye on this experience is unfortunate.”

Spokane was also a predetermined location for the first two rounds of the men's tournament. With the Utah, UC Irvine and South Dakota State women's teams staying in the area, hotel space was limited.

After the elimination of 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 had arranged for police escorts to ensure travel time to the venue did not exceed approximately 30 minutes, which is a condition of being able to host after obtain a higher grade. -16 seeds.

Players and staff on the Utah bench watch Gonzaga.

After those two teams were taken to Spokane hotels, they continued to be provided with police escorts, according to the source.

gonzaga saying who is aware of “racially derogatory comments” towards visiting players, adding: “Hate speech in any form is disgusting, disgraceful and should never be tolerated.

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

The NCAA said Tuesday that it worked with Gonzaga and Utah to provide greater security for the Utes until new housing was arranged in Spokane.

“The NCAA condemns racism and hate in any form and is committed to providing a world-class athletic and academic experience for student-athletes that fosters lifelong well-being,” it said in a statement. “The NCAA championships represent the pinnacle of a student-athlete's collegiate career. “We are devastated by the Utah team’s experience traveling to compete in what should have been a weekend competing on the brightest stage and creating some of the best memories of their lives.”

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

Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little did not provide details but called the incidents “hateful and unacceptable actions by 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 totally reject racism in all its forms,” ​​he said in a statement. “We condemn harassers who seek to harass and silence others. “I will continue the tradition of past Idaho governors of supporting our local leaders in their efforts to eradicate hate and bigotry from our communities.”

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

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