Coeur d’Alene officials express regret, sorrow after U of U WBB experienced ‘racial hate crimes’

Mar 26, 2024, 3:39 PM


SALT LAKE CITY – City officials and the police chief of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho held a news conference regarding the racial incidents the Utah Women’s Basketball team experienced while traveling for the NCAA Tournament.

The tournament games were held in Spokane, but the team’s initial lodging was in Coeur d’Alene.

Head coach of the team, Lynne Roberts, told media members about the incidents following Utah’s loss to Gonzaga on Monday night.

Coeur d’Alene Mayor Speaks On Racial Incident

On Tuesday morning, city officials held a news conference to offer apologies to the University of Utah women’s basketball team and provide updates on the investigation.

“On behalf of the city of Coeur d’Alene and all of its communities, I strongly condemn the appalling treatment of the female college athletes who were visiting,” Jim Hammond, mayor of Coeur d’Alene said.

Hammond said he reached out to the President’s Office at the University of Utah but has not heard back yet. He said he would like to speak with the staff and team.

“We express regret and true sorrow that your student-athletes were treated with such disdainful treatment,” he continued.  “To the young women who endured racial slurs while visiting, I offer my most sincere apology.”

Investigation Update From Coeur d’Alene Police Chief

Lee White, chief of Coeur d’Alene police, gave a small update on the investigation, though all details will not be reported because it is still considered an open case.

White told media members the crime was first reported on March 21. It was reported that a vehicle drove by the team while they were walking outside and racial slurs were yelled by the occupants.

Investigators are seeking video and witness reports of the incident and encourage anyone with information to contact the police.

Utah WBB NCAA Tournament Trip Dampened By “Racial Hate Crime”

Head coach Lynne Roberts revealed in her postgame press conference after the Utes lost to Gonzaga in the second round of the NCAA Tournament that her team experienced racism toward the beginning of their trip that forced them to move hotels.

“Our team hotel was in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, which is not very close,” Roberts said. “It’s 35-40 minutes, so that was a little strange, but whatever. We had several instances of some kind of racial hate crimes towards our program and it was incredibly upsetting for all of us.”

Roberts detailed what her team experienced calling the incidents “shocking” in an athletic and academic setting.

“There is so much diversity on a college campus and so you just are not exposed to that very often,” Roberts said. “When you are- you have people say, ‘man, I can’t believe that happened,’ but racism is real, and it happens. It’s awful.”

The incidents, which took place Thursday night when the team first arrived for the NCAA Tournament, happened “a few times” before the team moved hotels on Friday, March 22, according to Roberts.

Roberts emphasized the incidents were so shocking, that no one knew what to do.

“For our players- whether they are white, black, green- whatever, no one knew how to handle it,” Roberts continued. “It was really upsetting for our players and staff to not feel safe in an NCAA Tournament environment. It’s messed up. We moved hotels.”

The NCAA and Gonzaga were on hand to help the Utes get out of a bad, and very uncomfortable situation according to Roberts. However, there is some question as to whether they should have been there in the first place.

Despite the quick effort to resolve the issue after it happened, it didn’t change what was an unfortunate distraction for a team trying to enjoy the postseason.

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Coeur d’Alene officials express regret, sorrow after U of U WBB experienced ‘racial hate crimes’