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NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Spokane

Source: Myk Crawford / Getty

This year, the women’s NCAA tournament has drawn more headlines than the men’s.

But it has also come with some negativity from people who still don’t think women’s sports are as compelling as men’s, the scrutiny of every move made by LSU star Angel Reese and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, and the swirling controversy over the as-yet-unpublished story on LSU head coach Kim Mulkey.

But one of the biggest stories was when University of Utah coach Lynne Roberts revealed that while the team was in Idaho for the first and second rounds of the tournament, they encountered blatant racism. She says that as they were walking to a restaurant in Couer d’Alene with members of the band and cheerleading squad, they heard someone revving the engine of a white truck, before yelling the N-word at them and speeding off.

“We all just were in shock, and we looked at each other like, did we just hear that? … Everybody was in shock — our cheerleaders, our students that were in that area that heard it clearly were just frozen,” Charmelle Green, Utah’s deputy athletics director who is Black, told “We kept walking, just shaking our heads like I can’t believe that.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, after dinner, two trucks awaited the team, calling them the N-word again before taking off.

Utah was playing at the McCarthey Athletic Center in nearby Spokane, and were staying in Idaho about 35 minutes away because Spokane was short on hotel rooms.

“Incredibly upsetting for all of us,” Roberts said. “You think in our world, in athletics and the 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. And so when you are, it’s like, you have people say, ‘Man, I can’t believe that happened.’ But racism is real and it happens, and it’s awful.”

The Spokesman-Review in Spokane says that both North Idaho and Spokane are known for harboring violent white supremacists. However, a man who witnessed the incident did try to flag down police, the outlet reports.

The team was ultimately moved to a hotel in Spokane along with a team from UC-Irvine who after hearing of the incident feared for their safety as well. The Utes ultimately lost their game vs. Gongaza.

After the story went viral apologies came from all sides, including from Gonzaga, Idaho Gov. Brad Little and Coeur d’Alene Mayor Jim Hammond. But hose apologies were marred during a press conference about the incident that had to be shut down when local reporters and a self-styled “journalist” interrupted it.

Per Axios, as area police announced they were trying to figure out what laws had been violated, a reporter from the Idaho Dispatch asked whether trying to find the individuals who hurled the racial slurs would violate their First Amendment rights to free speech. However, Idaho has a law against ‘malicious harrassment.’

Another man identified as far-right activist Dave Reilly, from the Idaho Freedom Foundation started shouting he was a journalist during the conference but was shouted down by the crowd and the press conference was ended.

What begs the question is why, if the NCAA had any idea that Spokane and this area of Idaho was a hotbed of white supremacy why would they have played games in that region? Per AP, men’s sites are neutral and chosen well in advance, but women’s sites are chosen on Selection Saturday five days prior and home teams are given preference.

“As we continue to heal, we remain very disappointed in the decision to assign our team to hotels such a great distance from the competition site, in another state,” Utah athletic director Mike Harlan said in a statement also signed by Green and Roberts. “We will work with NCAA leadership to make it clear that being so far removed from the site was unacceptable and a contributing factor to the impact of this incident.”

Utah Coach Says Racial Slurs Hurled At Team In Idaho, Apology Goes Wrong As Well  was originally published on