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Utah women’s basketball team subjected to ‘racial hate crimes’ at tournament hotel, coach says

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Utah women’s basketball coach Lynne Roberts said Monday her team was forced to change hotels upon arriving for the NCAA Tournament over “racial hate crimes.”

Roberts made the revelation after the team lost to Gonzaga in the second round of the tournament. She said the incidents occurred Thursday night after the team arrived in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for the games being played in Spokane, Washington. Without going into specifics, Roberts said the incidents were disturbing to the party and it sparked concerns about their safety.

“We had several instances of some kind of racial hate crimes toward our program and (it was) incredibly upsetting for all of us,” Roberts told reporters. “In our world, in athletics and in university settings, it’s shocking. There’s so much diversity on a college campus and so you’re just not exposed to that very often.”

Utah, South Dakota State and UC Irvine were staying in Idaho because of the lack of hotel space in the Spokane area.

“Racism is real and it happens, and it’s awful. So for our players, whether they are White, Black, green, whatever, no one knew how to handle it and it was really upsetting,” Roberts said. “For our players and staff to not feel safe in an NCAA Tournament environment, it’s messed up.”

Kennady McQueen with Utes


She called the incident a “distraction and upsetting and unfortunate.”

“This should be a positive for everybody involved. This should be a joyous time for our program and to have kind of a black eye on the experience is unfortunate.”

Roberts said the NCAA and Gonzaga both helped Utah move hotels Friday.

Lani White celebrates

“We are frustrated and deeply saddened to know 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,” Gonzaga said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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