The initial headline indicated that Sylvia Hatchell had been fired. She resigned. The headline has been updated to reflect this change.
With Elon University being situated close to many national athletic powerhouses, it seems as though news is constantly swirling around the Phoenix — though not usually impacting the Phoenix. But after hearing the news that came out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s women’s basketball program on Monday, Elon could be directly affected.
Tar Heel head coach Sylvia Hatchell stepped down April 19 following the completion of a program-wide review. The review, which was conducted by an independent law firm based in Charlotte, found that Hatchell had made "racially insensitive" comments. Also according to the review, Hatchell put pressure on medical staff and players facing injury to play and practice through injury.
So how does this impact Elon?
Current Elon women’s head basketball coach Charlotte Smith has long been rumored to be next in line for the top job in Chapel Hill. Smith played under Hatchell from 1991 to 1995. Smith hit the game-winning shot for Hatchell’s Tar Heels in the 1994 National Championship game to win UNC its first – and to this date, its only – national championship.
The long-standing thought has been that when Hatchell decides her time in Chapel Hill is over and she wants to retire, Smith will be the one to take over. This look in to the program proved to be enough to persuade Hatchell to leave her post and makes the position available for Smith to claim.
Smith just finished her eighth season as head coach of the Phoenix with her worst record since becoming a head coach. The Phoenix finished 9-21 this season, just her second losing season in her eight years and her first losing record for in-conference play (4-14).
Despite this season, Smith built a nice resume for herself in prior years leading the Phoenix to back-to-back Colonial Athletic Association titles and berths in the NCAA Tournament. This past season was just her third season with Elon in which she didn’t win at least one conference tournament game. Smith has earned more wins than any other head coach in Elon’s Division I era.
Should Smith depart Elon and make the drive on I-40 East back to where she made her name in basketball, she would be the third Phoenix head coach to depart this academic year. She would join former football head coach Curt Cignetti, who left Elon to join in-conference foe James Madison University, and former men’s basketball head coach Matt Matheny, who was fired March 18.