Difficult news today out of Chapel Hill, where North Carolina announced that women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell is “temporarily stepping away” from coaching after she was diagnosed with leukemia.
Hatchell had been preparing for her 28th season as the Tar Heels’ head coach. She is one of three women’s coaches in history to 900 games, and she ranks second all time behind Pat Summitt in career victories. Hatchell last month was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.
Here are some statements that UNC released related to Hatchell and her condition:
“I am going to be involved in a treatment plan established by Dr. Pete Voorhees, medical oncologist, and his team from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center. I have the utmost confidence in my doctors. There is a reason why the North Carolina Cancer Hospital ranks as one of the top cancer facilities in the nation. I will remain very much involved with my team and day-to-day operations here at UNC and expect to return to my sideline responsibilities as soon as possible. My veteran staff and team will be well prepared and meet any challenges until my return. Don’t forget I am a Tar Heel woman!”
From UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham:
“Sylvia has our complete support and is in our thoughts and prayers for a full recovery. Sylvia is a fighter and her enduring spirit will aid her greatly. Her staff and players, family and members of the athletics and University community will do what we can to bolster those efforts. Sylvia has been a long-time supporter of the Lineberger Center and is in the best hands possible.”
From Dr. Pete Voorhees, medical oncologist at the Lineberger Cancer Center:
“Sylvia remains strong and in good spirits. She is physically and mentally tough, and this will serve her well on her journey. We are optimistic that she will do well.”
From Dr. Shelley Earp, the director of the Lineberger Cancer Center:
“Coach Hatchell has been a tireless ambassador for our cancer center for the last 15 years. She has helped us in countless ways. Now it is our turn to be there for her with the best care and our team’s full support.”
From UNC men’s coach Roy Williams, who went through a cancer scare about a year ago:
“I’m heartbroken for Sylvia, Sammy and Van. I know how much Sylvia loves to coach and compete with her team so any time that she misses will be difficult. But she’s tough and she will fight this with everything she has. All of us at Carolina and all of her friends in the coaching community will support her 100 percent in this fight."