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‘Clearly audible’ racial slur aimed at Utah women’s basketball team ahead of NCAA tournament, police say

By George Ramsay, CNN

(CNN) — A “clearly audible” racial slur was directed at the Utah women’s basketball team ahead of the NCAA tournament, police said on Wednesday.

Utah was staying at a hotel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho ahead of their opening March Madness game when the incidents took place last month and left the players “deeply troubled and shaken,” according to team officials.

Coeur d’Alene police have been investigating the racist abuse and now say that they have “collected approximately 35 hours of video” from businesses in the area.

“Some of the surveillance video/audio corroborates what was reported by members of the basketball program and detectives are currently working to locate any additional evidence,” said Sergeant Jared Reneau of the Coeur d’Alene police department.

“We’ve identified an audio recording where the use of a racial slur was clearly audible. We’re working determine the context and conduct associated with its use to determine if is a violation of the law. While we’re still reviewing evidence, it appears the use of a racial slur occurred more than one time.”

Utah was staying in Coeur d’Alene because of limited hotel space in Spokane, Washington, where the team was due to play its opening games of March Madness. The Utes defeated South Dakota State in their first game before losing against host Gonzaga in the second round of the tournament.

According to a statement from Utah officials, the team was on its way to dinner when a vehicle drove past and “shouted racial epithets at the group.”

Later, when the team was on its way back from dinner, a vehicle drove slowly past the group, “revving its engine” while the occupants again shouted “racially disparaging words and threats,” the statement said.

This week, police announced that detectives are trying to identify a silver passenger car that was in the area when the incident occurred.

At a press conference the week after the incidents took place, the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations said that a Confederate flag was displayed in the vehicle that had initially passed the team.

Utah was eventually moved to a hotel in Spokane when space became available.

The NCAA has said that it was aware of the instances of racial abuse and “immediately worked with Gonzaga and Utah to provide increased security for the team” before the new accommodation was arranged.

“The NCAA condemns racism and hatred in any form and is committed to providing a world-class athletics and academic experience for student-athletes that fosters lifelong well-being,” the organization said.

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CNN’s Jill Martin contributed to reporting.

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