North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell is one of seven coaches who are receiving either contract extensions or new contracts from the university, the school announced on Thursday.
Hatchell, whose contract was set to expire in 2018, is receiving a two-year extension and will now be under contract through the 2019-20 season. Her contract, and whether it would be extended, had been a source of questions amid a long-running NCAA investigation that has targeted women’s basketball in a way it hasn’t other sports.
In addition to Hatchell, UNC is also extending the contract of Jenny Levy, women’s lacrosse coach, through the 2018-19 academic year. Five other coaches are receiving three-year contracts, which represent their first multiyear agreements with the school: Joe Breschi (men’s lacrosse), Anson Dorrance (women’s soccer), Sam Paul (men’s tennis), Karen Shelton (field hockey) and Carlos Somoano (men’s soccer).
Hatchell’s contract situation had been the focus of speculation for more than a year. UNC declined to extend her contract in the summer of 2015, when the university announced that Roy Williams, the men’s basketball coach, had received a two-year extension. Like Hatchell, Williams’ contract had also been due to expire in 2018.
At the time, the move drew criticism from some former UNC women’s basketball players. One of them, Meghan Austin, wrote a scathing editorial in The News & Observer, criticizing UNC’s decision not to offer Hatchell an extension. In her editorial, Austin wrote that Hatchell and her program had been made a scapegoat in the NCAA investigation.
By then the investigation, which began as a probe into how a long-running scheme of bogus African Studies courses benefited athletes, had started to focus on women’s basketball. Specifically the investigation focused on Jan Boxill, a former philosophy instructor who’d been the team’s academic counselor.
In her editorial, Austin questioned why Williams received an extension while Hatchell didn’t. At the time, the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations included references to men’s basketball, football and women’s basketball.
“Our program was not the only team in the report, yet we are the ones being talked about the most,” Austin wrote in her editorial, which was published in July 2015. “Roy Williams and his program were in the report, and he got a contract extension.
“The football program was in the report, and its coaching staff was confident enough to tell recruits that they will not receive any repercussions from the NCAA investigation. That leaves the female sport as the one program negatively affected by these allegations.”
Since then, the NCAA amended its Notice of Allegations. In the amended version, the references to men’s basketball and football were removed, though Boxill is still the subject of two of the five Level I allegations facing UNC.
The university, which responded to the amended NOA on Aug. 1, is expected to appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions next month. The committee will ultimately decide how to sanction UNC, which faces an allegation of a lack of institutional control.
Hatchell, meanwhile, has what she wanted – an extension. As recently as May, when she attended the ACC spring meetings in Amelia Island, Fla., Hatchell said that it was “hard not to say” that women’s basketball had become a scapegoat during the NCAA investigation.
“I’m real happy for the other sports – for football and men’s basketball, that they’ve sort of been taken out of this,” Hatchell said then. “... But I must admit that I’m heartbroken that this has happened to women’s basketball.”
Hatchell, 64, who is preparing for her 31st season at UNC, led the Tar Heels to a national championship in 1994. Throughout the duration of her agreement with UNC her base salary will increase from $366,000 this academic year to $400,000 during the 2019-20 academic year.
The six other coaches who are receiving new contracts have also won national championships at UNC. Combined, those seven coaches have won 34 national championships, with Dorrance and women’s soccer accounting for 22 of those.
Dorrance, 65, in his 38th season at UNC, had never had a multiyear contract with the school. He and the other four coaches receiving first-time three-year contracts had been working under year-to-year annual letters of appointment.
“This is a remarkable group of head coaches – each of them has won a national championship and they have a combined 168 years directing their programs at Carolina,” Bubba Cunningham, the UNC athletic director, said in a statement. “We are excited and proud to sign these seven championship coaches to these multiyear contracts and extensions.”