The 2018-2019 women’s college basketball season consisted of great individual talent on display and outstanding team play. Unfortunately, it was also filled with some controversy.
Georgia Tech dismissed head coach MaChelle Joseph in March after an investigation showed evidence of abuse and a toxic environment. Joseph has the most wins in women’s basketball history at Georgia Tech. The former head coach of the Yellow Jackets was 311-204 at the school and led the program to seven NCAA Tournament appearances.
Then last week, Sylvia Hatchell resigned as head coach of North Carolina’s women’s basketball team. The Hall of Famer leaves the program after an investigation into allegations of insensitive conduct. This includes the use of racist language and the demands of injured players playing through the injury.
Hatchell was 751-325 at North Carolina. During her tenure, the Tar Heels had 23 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, which included three trips to the Final Four and a national championship in 1994.
In 2019, actions like the ones described are not being tolerated anymore. In turn, it’s giving players a sense of of pride and self-respect to not let these activities take place. All-in-all, this just shows the game is indeed changing, and athletes are standing up.
For example, the Washington Post noted that players at UNC alleged that Hatchell “… made a series of racially offensive remarks – including one suggesting her players would get ‘hanged from trees with nooses’ at an upcoming game if their performance didn’t improve.”
Nonetheless, players are stepping up to these incidences. It shows that they will not be disrespected with such remarks. These young women are displaying they have self-worth and it will not be devalued by remarks such as the ones alleged by Hatchell.
In short, you can say that these players are displaying a sign of deserved entitlement.
Now, there are some detractors as to how coaches should behave. Some believe coaches must be tough to get the most out of their players. In other words, coaches have the right to be tough — though there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed.
Just ask UConn head coach Geno Auriemma.
“The majority of coaches in America are afraid their players,” Auriemma stated before this season’s Final Four. “The NCAA, the athletic directors and society has made them afraid of their players. Every article you read: “This guy’s a bully. This woman’s a bully. This guy went over the line. This woman was inappropriate. Yet the players get off scot-free in everything. They can do whatever they want. They don’t like something you say to them, they transfer. Coaches, they have to coach to coach with one behind their back. Why? Because some people have abused the role of a coach.”
Albeit coaches are walking a slippery slope nowadays. One point that Auriemma brought is that some coaches are abusing the role. Fortunately, players are not tolerant of the mistreatment.
“I think this generation is not tolerant,” declared Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw. “That’s not a bad thing. But back in the day, coaches could pretty much do anything. Nobody really complained. Now [players] know better. They’re demanding to be treated better. [But] kids are going to get yelled at. They need to be able to take a little bit of that.”
The main point is that coaches must be able to evolve with the times. Players are completely different from those during the early days of women’s college basketball. The men and women who are leading these programs must now find a way to communicate to these players without demeaning their character.
With the actions displayed in these investigations, it is clear that some coaches do revert back to the older, less acceptable form. Coaches like Joseph, Hatchell, former Nebraska head coach Connie Yori and former Loyola-Chicago head coach Sheryl Swoopes have all been on the receiving ends of dismissals and resignations for their actions towards players.
Regardless, women’s college basketball players are showing that they are no longer tolerating the mistreatment they have been receiving. They should be applauded for standing firm in their convictions and defending their characters. In reality, this is a sign that things are altering and it is for the betterment of the sport.
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