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Utah women’s basketball team target of racial taunts in Idaho, officials say

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Utah women’s basketball The team members were targeted with racial slurs as they walked from their hotel to a restaurant, an Idaho official said Tuesday.

Tony Stewart, who was part of the Kootenai County Human Relations Task Force, said at a news conference that a truck flying a Confederate flag approached members and used racist language, including the N-word. The incident reportedly occurred in Coeur d’Alene before their NCAA Tournament Game.

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Utah women's basketball team

Utah players and bench staff react near the end of a second-round college basketball game against Gonzaga during the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Wash., Monday, March 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

As the team left the restaurant, Stewart said the same driver returned, “now reinforced by others,” revved the engines and yelled at the team again.

Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White said about 100 people were in the area the night of the incident and investigators had yet to speak with those involved. Two charges would be possible against those found involved: malicious harassment and disorderly conduct, he said.

White also said he was working with the FBI in the investigation.

“Until we have all the facts and the investigation is complete, what charges could be brought against the perpetrators remains to be determined,” he said.

No suspects have been identified.

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“There is no place for racism, hatred or intolerance in the great state of Idaho. We condemn bullies who seek to harass and silence others,” the governor said. ‘Idaho, Brad Little.

Lynne Roberts speaks to reporters

Utah head coach Lynne Roberts speaks during a news conference after a second-round college basketball game against Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament in Spokane, Wash., Monday, March 25, 2024 . (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

Lynne Roberts, Utes women’s basketball coach makes the revelation Monday night after the team was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament. She called the incident a “racial hate crime.”

“We had several instances of racial hate crimes against our program, and (it was) incredibly upsetting for all of us,” Roberts told reporters. “In our world, in the sports world and in academia, it’s shocking. There’s so much diversity on a college campus, and so you just aren’t exposed to it very often.”

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

“Racism is real, it happens and it’s horrible. So for our players, whether they’re white, black, green, whatever, no one knew how to deal with it, and it was really upsetting,” Roberts said . “For our players and staff to not feel safe in an NCAA tournament environment is a waste.”

Lynne Roberts on the sidelines

Utah head coach Lynne Roberts leads her team during the first half of a second-round college basketball game against Gonzaga during the NCAA tournament in Spokane, Wash., Monday, March 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)

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Roberts said Gonzaga University, which hosted tournament games, and the NCAA helped the team move hotels.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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