Authorities are looking into allegations of racial harassment directed towards an NCAA women’s basketball team in Idaho.

Authorities in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, along with the FBI, are conducting an investigation following reports of racial harassment directed at a team participating in the NCAA Women’s basketball tournament while staying in the city.

According to members of the University of Utah women’s team, individuals in a truck adorned with a confederate flag hurled racial slurs and aggressively revved the engine as players and staff were walking to dinner last Thursday. They further stated that the same truck, along with another vehicle, trailed them back to their hotel after dinner.

Both Utah’s team and the women’s team from the University of California, Irvine, were lodging in the northern Idaho town for their participation in the basketball tournament held in nearby Spokane, Washington.

Utah’s Head Coach, Lynne Rogers, expressed dismay over the incident, emphasizing the unsettling feeling of her players and staff not feeling safe within the NCAA Tournament environment.

In response to the situation, the NCAA collaborated with the teams and tournament host Gonzaga University to provide additional security. Subsequently, Utah’s team was relocated to a hotel in Spokane the following day, while UC Irvine returned home after being eliminated from the competition on Saturday.

Coeur d’Alene Mayor Jim Hammond condemned the treatment of the female college athletes during a press conference, denouncing the incident as appalling.

The occurrence took place in a region of the Pacific Northwest historically associated with hate groups and has recently witnessed a surge in extremist activity, even among elected officials. Coeur D’Alene and northern Idaho gained notoriety as a haven for extremism and racist organizations in the 1970s and ’80s, with the relocation of the Aryan Nations headquarters. Although activity subsided following legal action, incidents like the arrest of 31 members of the white nationalist group Patriot Front two summers ago underscore ongoing concerns.

Tony Stewart, representing the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, emphasized the troubling growth of a toxic environment both nationally and locally, perpetuated by individuals and organized extremist groups promoting various forms of hatred.

Statements of condemnation were issued by Idaho Governor Brad Little, Gonzaga University, and the NCAA.

Local law enforcement, in collaboration with the FBI, is urging the approximately 100 witnesses to the harassment to come forward and provide information to assist in the investigation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *