Attorney defends UNC’s Hatchell amid player complaints

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              North Carolina head coach Sylvia Hatchell instructs her team in the second half of a first round women's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Waco, Texas, Saturday March 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — The attorney for North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell says players misconstrued comments she made as racist and that she wouldn’t try to force someone to play without clearance from medical staff.

Wade Smith made the comments Thursday to The Washington Post and The News & Observer of Raleigh.

The school placed Hatchell and her coaching staff on paid administrative leave Monday amid player concerns while a law firm conducts a review of the program. The Post, citing unnamed parents of players, said complaints were about inappropriate racial comments and players being pushed to play while injured.

In a statement to The Associated Press, Smith says Hatchell “does not have a racist bone in her body” and “cares deeply about (players’) health and well-being.”