Oct 15, 2013
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Sylvia Hatchell, the Hall of Fame women's basketball coach at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has been diagnosed with leukemia and is temporarily stepping away from her on-the-court coaching responsibilities, officials said Monday.
“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,” Hatchell said in a statement. “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," she said. "My veteran staff and team will be well prepared and meet any challenges until my return."
Associate head coach Andrew Calder will direct the team during Hatchell’s absence. Calder is in his 28th season with the Tar Heels and has been a part of six 30-win seasons and three Final Fours, including the national championship in 1994.
Voorhees, an associate professor at UNC, called Hatchell "physically and mentally tough," but said stepping away from the rigors of coaching "will serve her well on her journey."
“Sylvia remains strong and in good spirits,” he said in a statement. "We are optimistic that she will do well.”
Last month, Hatchell was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. During her 28 years leading the Tar Heels, she has compiled a 636-241 mark, won AIAW, NAIA and NCAA national championships and claimed eight ACC Tournament titles.
Overall, she has a 908-321 record in 39 seasons as a collegiate basketball coach, making her one of only three head coaches in women’s basketball to win 900 games.
“Sylvia has our complete support and is in our thoughts and prayers for a full recovery,” UNC Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham said in a statement. “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.”
“I’m heartbroken for Sylvia, Sammy and Van," UNC-Chapel Hill men's basketball coach Roy Williams said in a statement. "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.”