Utah Basketball Team Switched Hotels After 'Racial Hate Crimes', Coach Says

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Utah women's basketball coach Lynne Roberts says her team was forced to switch hotels ahead of their first NCAA tournament game after they experienced "racial hate crimes," per CNN.

The Utes were staying at a hotel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho before their first-round game against South Dakota State on Saturday (March 23) when alleged racist incidents unfolded.

"We had several instances of some kind of racial hate crimes towards our program, and [it was] incredibly upsetting for all of us,” Roberts said in a statement on Monday (March 25). “There is so much diversity on a college campus and so you’re just not exposed to that very often … Racism is real. It happens. It’s awful. So for our players, whether they are White, Black, green, whatever, no one knew how to handle it. It was really upsetting.”

Utah beat South Dakota State in the first round of the tournament before losing their second game against Gonzaga 77-66. The games were hosted at Gonzaga in Spokane, Washington.

Roberts said her women's team switched hotels after the alleged "racial hate crimes," which occurred before their games in Spokane.

“For our players and staff to not feel safe in an NCAA tournament environment, it’s messed up, and so we moved hotels,” she said. “The NCAA and [host university] Gonzaga worked to get us in a new hotel and we appreciate that. That’s what happened. It was a distraction and upsetting and unfortunate.

“This should be a positive for everybody involved. This should be a joyous time for our program. To have kind of a black eye on this experience is unfortunate," Roberts added.

The details of the alleged racist incidents remain unclear.

Gonzaga officials confirmed that “racially disparaging comments” were made to visiting players.

“Hate speech in any form is repugnant, shameful, and must never be tolerated," the university said. “We worked hard to secure the opportunity to serve as the host institution, and our first priority is and must be the safety and welfare of all student-athletes, coaches, families and supporting staff.”

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